Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Mar 10 16:35:39 UTC 2012

On Mar 10, 2012, at 11:09 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> But isn't it just the -er suffix -- "forming derivative ns. with the
> general sense 'a man who has to do with (the thing denoted by the
> primary n.)'"

isn't that too general a gloss?  why not "one that ___s"? (since instrumentals as well as agents are possible, as in cookers, blenders, choppers, food-processors, etc.)

> -- that one is concerned with?
>     actor -- actress
>     blogger --  blogress
>     troller [not "troll"] -- trolless
>     monster -- monstrous

There are many attestations for both "monstress" (including a comic book hero(ine) of that name) and "monsteress" (as in "Cookie Monsteress", "sexy monsteress", inter al.). Perhaps the version with the extra syllable is motivated by the desire to avoid homonymy with the adjective "monstrous".  "Bloggeress" exists too, but is vastly outnumbered by "blogress", which comes complete with expected puns ("A pilgrim's blogress").


> Therefore I'm not concerned about "alien".
> In passing, "blogress" has an added appeal for me -- a hint of anti-progress.
> Joel
> At 3/10/2012 05:35 AM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>>> The implication is that by treating Fluke with disrespect, Landsburg
>>> has behaved unethically. That's bunk, as blogress Ann Althouse
>>> (herself a professor) points out: ...
>> Turns out to be, unsurprisingly, fairly common, even though the gendered
>> version was, of course, created by analogy. I guess, the suffix remains
>> productive. Now, what's the female version of "troll"? "monster"?
>> "alien"? I have no doubt that future antropolinguists, investigating
>> Prehistoric 21st Century English, will reconstruct them the same way we
>> reconstruct Proto-Polynesian words.
>>    VS-)
>> PS: Yes, if anyone's having any doubts, most of this post--aside from
>> the citation--is meant to be a joke. The citation is quite real.
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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