(9/28/02 8:10:58 am)
| Word Etymology|
I'm having a discussion with the editor about the use of 'bitch' in my fairy tale flash. Does anyone have an OED? Is there a reference to the earliest English usage of that term?
'Jade', 'trull', 'wanton', and 'harlot' just don't convey the same nuance for me. 'Witch', (his suggestion), while nicely ironic, falls flat. However, to his ear, my word choice isn't archaic enough. I'm researching it on the web, but haven't come up with a definitive source yet.
And, since this is my first sale, and the first time I've had to negotiate anything like this, any suggestions as to how to go about it? I had no problem with the other two changes he wanted to make.
(9/28/02 9:13:15 am)
| FROM OED for YOU|
Bitch, first record in OED, year 1000 referencing the dog
Bitch, first record in OED, year 1400 referencing a woman
1. The female of the dog.
b. The female of the fox, wolf, and occasionally of other beasts; usually in combination with the name of the species. (Also as in sense 2.)
2. a. Applied opprobriously to a woman; strictly, a lewd or sensual woman. Not now in decent use; but formerly common in literature. In mod. use, esp. a malicious or treacherous woman; of things: something outstandingly difficult or unpleasant. (See also son of a bitch.)
b. Applied to a man (less opprobrious, and somewhat whimsical, having the modern sense of <oq>dog<cq>). Not now in decent use.
c. A primitive form of lamp used in Alaska and Canada.
if a word that appears to be 1002 year old, or 602 years old isn't archaic enough, are you writing a pre-historic fairy tale? Also, as you see OED tells us the word is not in decent use. The men behind this monumental work of the OED would roll over in graves to hear rap. Boy.
hang in there
(9/28/02 1:30:34 pm)
| Re: FROM OED for YOU|
Thank you so much! Now to await the reply...
And no, it's not a pre-historic fairytale--but that made me laugh. Who knew Fred, Barney, Wilma, and Betty had fairytale potential? ;)
(9/28/02 11:53:14 pm)
| Holy origins ...|
I actually read a book a few months ago that discussed the origins of this word, and many others that are typically leveled against women; the title actually consists of a single word for the female genitalia possessing very negative connotations. I'm not sure if it will get past the board sensors, or if it's appropriate for the site in light of young readers (despite the fact that the book debunks those associations completely ... the irony does not escape me, but better safe than sorry ... I'll look up the author's name to post later). Ata ny rate, the author claimed that "bitch" as an insult for a woman actually derived from a title for the priestesses of the goddess Diana, and that the canine association (stemming from Diana's hunting hounds) came later. The book was not precisely academic, but I assume that her sources were ... at any rate, worth looking into.
(9/29/02 9:02:37 am)
| Author name ...|
The book is by Inga Muscio - you should be able to find it on Amazon. By the way, I was reading over the OED definitions of "bitch" and noticed an official affirmation of something that's been bothering me for a while; the alternate uses of the word when applied rto men and women. If a woman is a bitch, she's assumed to be angry, mean, and, in short, unfeminine. If a man is a bitch, he's simply weak, and submissive, unable to assert himself. The implication is that even the strongest woman is on the same level as the weakest man. I find that rather disturbing ...
Helen, Who Thinks Too Much About this Sort of Stuff
(9/29/02 10:42:47 am)
I just need to post that I love your logic, which works at the speed of light. I've copied and pasted your remarks here for future reference!
(9/30/02 3:19:10 pm)
| Re: Author name ...|
Thanks so much for pointing out the reference, Helen. I really appreciate the time you took -- in addition to making that clarification for me re: the difference in word usage when directed at each sexes.
who needs to think more about this kind of stuff herself.
(10/1/02 3:34:06 am)
It's interesting to me listening to how that word "bitch" has acquired a multiplicity of meanings even now--from "beatch" (which seems more gender neutral because it seems to express less of insult and more an emotional state?) or at any rate I am intrigued by the popular fashion of intentionally slurring the word...and then turning bitch from noun into verb is old, but now it has an auxilary verb: to "bitch-slap". It is sort of shocking to me because I suspect the verb phrase has its origins in the coercive behavior of a pimp to his prostitute--but it is heard in now in sit-coms--often said by men threatening other men as a form of ridiculous put-down humor.
And yet I am not averse to using the term for myself when I want to express with some pride to my classroom of all male students that as nice as I can be when they do what I want, I can be heroically unpleasant and dangerous when they don't. When I hear it muttered under a disgruntled breath I am usually pleased rather than offended. I suppose that's the classic subversion of the insult.
But a lamp in Alaska? how did that happen?