Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Feb 25 19:43:55 UTC 2013

At 2/25/2013 01:56 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>To be sure, "condescension" (like "condescend") has undergone
>connotative shifts over the years; I remember being struck by
>Austen's apparently positive use of it as an attitude or act embodying grace.

"Condescension" was of course a virtue in the 18th century, Austen's
time.  It was tit-for-tat with "deference".

>OED's sense 2 is 'To come or bend down, so far as a particular
>action is concerned, from one's position of dignity or pride; to
>stoop voluntarily and graciously' and 3, quoting Dr. Johnson, is 'To
>depart from the privileges of superiority by a voluntary submission;
>to sink willingly to equal terms with inferiours'.  Clearly there's
>been some shifting with the winds of change

Some time has elapsed.  :-)

>in our attitudes toward class differences, and the OED's entry is
>almost entirely daggered with purportedly obsolete uses.  As for the
>nominal, the only two non-daggered senses for "condescension" are
>strikingly positive:
>2.  Voluntary abnegation for the nonce of the privileges of a
>superior; affability to one's inferiors, with courteous disregard of
>difference of rank or position
>4.  Gracious, considerate, or submissive deference shown to another;
>... AHD's more up-to-date negatively connoting sense, 'Patronizingly
>superior behavior or attitude'.

But the OED does not seem to have been blown into the 20th century.


>Victor's "objectification" certainly seems to hit the mark for at
>least some instances of the attitude "men" are intending to express.
>("Coarseness" goes without saying but that's more manner than
>content).  Or maybe we need a new noun--MILiFication?
>--LH, wondering if there might be a class-related distinction
>between British and U.S. connotations for "condescend/sion"
>On Feb 25, 2013, at 12:46 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
> > This is actually interesting because the description shows that it
> > either misses the point of the expression or that the meaning has evolved.
> >
> > In the stated form, it's used in American Pie (Stiffler's Mom). It
> > applies when a male is speaking about an older women, perhaps a mother
> > of a friend (think, The Graduate). This certainly exists on its own
> > (this was an important part of Sons of Anarchy plot in an early season).
> > But if you look at tabloids, particularly their on-line equivalents
> > (TMZ, etc.), the expression actually applies to mothers of any age,
> > including teen-mom celebrities. I am also wondering if "condescension"
> > is quite the right word to describe the attitude. Objectification?
> > Corseness?
> >
> >    VS-)
> >
> > On 2/25/2013 9:28 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> >> ...Sutton's discussion on p. 565 ("The acronym MILF ('mother I'd like
> >> to fuck') is particularly interesting, since it singles out older
> >> women and expresses men's condescension toward them"). I can send
> >> either or both of you a .pdf of the article copied from that book.
> >>
> >> LH
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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