char siu, raper

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jun 4 16:35:33 UTC 2008

At 12:24 PM -0400 6/4/08, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
>>>>On Tue, Jun 3, 2008 at 12:50 PM, Benjamin Barrett (off list)
>>>>>Another word I ought to have mentioned is "ser" for "sir," which seems
>>>>>likely to have been borrowed from other works. BB
>I recognize it immediately from Jack Vance's "The Moon Moth" (1961).
>Google Books search shows it used repeatedly by L. E. Modesitt, also by
>G. Bear, E. Moon, C. L. Wilson, and others. It also has many occurrences
>in more conventional books, apparently (at my glance) often/usually as
>eye-dialect (I Googled <<yes-ser>> since <<ser>> gave too many
>abbreviations etc.). It's natural, surely.
>>If you're talking about "raper", possibly, since it's formed from a
>>normal English word with a productive prefix; ....
>"Raper" is not unknown. I guess I would probably prefer it myself in a
>context such as "At the Rape of Nanking, who were the rapers/rapists?"
>where I think maybe "rapist" would point too strongly to the
>specifically sexual sense of "rape".
FWIW, dictionaries such as AHD include "raper" under the head entry
of "rape" (with no separate definition), while "rapist"--involving a
less fully productive suffix--has its own entry and definition ('one
who commits the crime of rape').  This is in fact tantamount to
Doug's observation above, since other (non-criminal) senses for the
verb "rape", including metaphorical ones, are included.  Thus, there
are 66 hits for "rape our civil liberties" (curiously, most of them
seem to refer to the "war on terror"); one would expect the alleged
culprits to be referred to as rapers, not rapists, of those civil


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