Sunday, 8 March 2020

Feminist stuff. And being cautious.

I have it on good authority that today is International Women’s Day. Yesterday there was a very battered and windswept banner to that effect tied to the railings next to a major road, possibly calling women to go and march in the centre of town. It was difficult to read from my angle so I couldn’t confirm that. Today it had disappeared. One of the buses I saw this morning, however, as well as announcing its number and route, every so often displayed across its front panel “VIGO EN FEMINISMO”.

There you go!

I came across this in yesterday’s Guardian online:-

“International Women’s Day is March 8. On this day, people around the world celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The first celebration was held in 1911, and the event was recognized by the United Nations starting in 1975.

It’s a little ironic, with all this in mind, to think about the origin of the word “woman” because it’s a combination of the words “wife” and “man.” You can see this if you look back at the Old English spellings of this word. Spelling wasn’t consistent back then, so we see some variations: wifmon, wifmanna, and wifmone, for example.  But they’re all saying the same thing. An adult, female woman is defined as “a man’s wife.” No two ways about it.

Over time, the words evolved. By the Middle English period, we see “wimman” and “wommon” being used. And by the 1600s, the versions we know today were established: “woman,” singular, and “women,” plural”

Okay, what a lot of fuss. Consider the following!-

French: femme = woman and wife
Spanish: mujer = woman and wife
German: frau = woman and wife - although I am not entirely sure about that one as my German is very rudimentary

There are probably other examples.

The irony is that loads of feminists insist on being called women rather than ladies as they find the latter quite condescending.

Get over it. It’s only language!

I have been in communication with a number of friends about the coronavirus crisis. Or rather, they have been sending me messages. One is worried that she might be stuck in Hamburg if flights are cancelled. Quite why Hamburg would suffer more than most, I do not know. Another friend is monitoring the number of cases in Italy. We are booked for another tour of Sicily at the end of May and he is concerned that our trip might have to be cancelled. Meanwhile my Italian friend, organiser of the planned Sicily tour, having heard the news that Lombardy is closed, is mildly, only jokingly, worried that many inhabitants of that region, being Italians and thus having more than a touch of anarchic rebellion about them, will simply move south, taking the virus to parts it has not yet reached.

Oh, boy!

We shall see. There is no point is stressing right now about stuff we have no control over.

A final point on language: how to spell ciao in Spanish - chao!

 Happy International Women’s Day!

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