Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Language games

I have known for a long time that some feminists have wanted to call history 'herstory' instead. I always found it silly. Now this report points out that students are writing it as 'hxstory' to make it a gender neutral term. I despair.

Let's get this right, if history meant 'his story' it would be spelt 'hisstory.' It isn't. It's spelt 'hi story,' which makes it the beginning of an over-familiar email to the past. But this isn't the real lunacy. Rather than being PC, these zealots are being culturally biased and, in particular, linguistically anglocentric. The word history derives from the Greek, ιστοριά (istoria). Greek nouns, as in most languages are gendered. Ιστοριά is feminine! It is η ιστοριά. So because of English transliteration they have assumed that a feminine noun is masculine, merely because it contains the letters 'his.'

Just because one word contains the letters that make up another, it doesn't mean that this defines the origin and meaning of the original word. Let's take the Lincolnshire town of Scunthorpe as an example. The four letter word it famously contains is not a description of the town's inhabitants - perhaps.


Marc McKenzie said...

Thanks so much for this--hell, I also learned something new, since I did not know the origin of the word "history" (and I'm in my forties already...:( ). Then again, it seems that the same can be said for many others, including students and their teachers.

George S said...

I remember this argument from about 1986 when someone in school proposed it. I gave the same answer as you have just done. I thought the argument was dead but I see it leads a zombie existence.