Heard on The Judges: "bartend(e)ress"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 28 16:08:24 UTC 2009

In an article on sexisme in le francais-canadien, a French-Canadian
woman noted that, if a group consisted of une mille femmes et un
chien, that group would be referred to as _ils_.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

On Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 10:19 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Heard on The Judges: "bartend(e)ress"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 12:16 PM +0000 1/28/09, Damien Hall wrote:
>>James said:
>>'This past weekend the Screen Actors' Guild gave out its awards, including
>>"Best Female Actor", so we have to assume it is now official.'
>>For them, perhaps, but I note that both the Oscars:
>>and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA):
>>use 'actress' (their categories for female actors in leading roles are
>>called '(Best) Actress in a Leading Role' and '(Best) Leading Actress'
>>I was going to post about this before and say that the BrE tendency was
>>still to refer to female actors as actresses, but my research was
>>overshadowed by Mark's excellent figures on it, and, anyway, when I did
>>Google searches on 'I am / She is an actor / actress' restricting the
>>search to <... .uk> sites, the figures didn't bear me out.
>>I replicated Ron's previous searches, but with my restricted searches, and
>>these were the results:
>>I am an actress    52,400
>>She is an actress  93,000
>>I am an actor      93,000
>>She is an actor    10,800
>>Ratio of 'She is an actress' to 'She is an actor'
>>= 93,000 / 10,800
>>= 1:8.61
>>DAMIEN (search restricted to .uk sites)
>>I am an actress    444
>>She is an actress  1,860
>>I am an actor      871
>>She is an actor    354
>>Ratio of 'She is an actress' to 'She is an actor'
>>= 1,860 / 354
>>= 1:5.25
>>The usual caveats about ghits apply, of course, with the added one that you
>>don't know who is posting to any site, not even ones based in the UK (the
>>assumption of the search is that by restricting it to .uk sites I will get
>>at least a greater proportion of hits from the UK).
>>Anyway, these results were surprising to me: if it had really been true
>>that UK-based people use 'actress' more than 'female actor', you would have
>>expected the UK ratio of 'She is an actress' to 'She is an actor' to be
>>higher than the general, non-restricted search one. I presume that the
>>conclusion to draw from that is that BrE is also taking in (what I think
>>is) the incoming variant, 'female actor'; on the other hand, what I think
>>is considered the main British film and TV award organisation still uses
>>'actress', as do the Oscars themselves. But it's clearly a situation in
>>flux; the whole Royal Academy of Dramatic Art site
>>contains only 7 mentions of the word 'actress', and they refer to members
>>of the acting profession collectively as 'actors' (not 'actors and
> That last point is significant, since it bears on the general
> considerations of markedness (or privative opposition) and just how
> innocent the opposition is or isn't.  Indeed, the fact that in the
> U.S. too it's "Actors' Equity" ("the labor union representing actors
> and stage managers...") and "Actors' Playhouse" and "Screen Actors
> Guild" and so on, in each case including female as well as male
> clients and performers without mentioning actresses directly, that
> helps convince many women who act, whether or not they call
> themselves actors or actresses, that it's not simply a matter of
> ACTOR [+male]/ACTRESS [+female].
> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list