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Author Topic: Common word for a male human  (Read 4648 times)


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Common word for a male human
« on: February 07, 2015, 08:32:10 PM »
Reading http://io9.com/5962243/think-twice-before-using-mankind-to-mean-all-humanity-say-scholars it says that wæpenmann was the common term for man, with wifmann meaning woman. I'd not come across wæpenmann before, using mann or wer instead. Is this indeed the most common term for a man?


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Re: Common word for a male human
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2015, 06:16:37 PM »
I'm not sure whether anyone has enumerated the instances of each word in the OE corpus to answer your question, but Bosworth-Toller's AS dictionary (http://bosworth.ff.cuni.cz/asearch) certainly has many more examples for wer than wæpenmann, suggesting that the former was more usually used. That certainly tallies with my impression from the OE that I've read.

I'm no linguist, but naively I would have expected that given a set of synonyms, the shorter options would usually come to dominate?