Thursday, February 23, 2006

Real Wers Don't Eat Quiche!

As the proud inventor of "Augsburg Evangelical," I've been thinking of the terminological problem of "man" "woman" etc. As Josh points out here, modern day English is simply has only two words "man" and "woman" for a singular H. sapiens, but no sex-neutral word. Latin and Greek and German have three, but English (and French) have only two. This is a problem

Now, if you own an American Heritage Dictionary, in the classic 1980 edition edited by William Morris with the Indo-European roots appendix by Calvert Watkins (accept no substitutes!), you will know that ancestral Indo-European (back around 4,000 BC in Ukraine-S. Russia) had in fact three terms: *wiros (for male H. sapiens), *gwena (for female H. sapiens), and *manu (H. sapiens in general). (The asterisk indicates reconstructed forms.)

Now *manu is the ancestor of modern-day man. Thus the original meaning of "man" is not "male," but "human." Let's hold on to that. Barbarisms like "humankind" (taking Latin human and attaching to it Germanic kind) must be resisted. Not only that, but, for example, by making "man" to be "male," but leaving "and was made man" in the Creed, we subtly alter the actual emphasis which is not male as a opposed to female, but human as opposed to God. So we have a problem.

*Gwena (which is the origin of English queen and Greek gyne) was eventually replaced by "woman" (female H. sapiens).

What about male H. sapiens? Well, *wiros (from which comes Latin vir and hence "virile," etc.) did have a cognate in Old English, a word we find used in the modern compounds "werewolf" (man-wolf) and "wergild" (man-gold, i.e. payment for killing a man).

I therefore propose that for male H. sapiens we revive the term "wer" (rhymes with "hair"). So man means human as opposed to animal, but wer would mean male as opposed to female. So for example, "manhood" would be "werhood," "manly" would be "werly," etc. The "Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" would be renamed the "Council on Biblical Werhood and Womanhood." We could say the Bayly brothers lay great stress on the werliness of the Gospel.

Wherever the Bible was specifies a male H. sapiens we would use wer. Here's some Biblical passages:

"Now I want you to realize that the head of every wer is Christ, and the head of the woman is wer, and the head of Christ is God. Every wer who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head" (1 Cor 11).

"Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the wers who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us" (Acts 1:21).

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise wer who built his house on the rock" (Mat. 7:24).

And in proverbs and expressions:

Are you wer enough to handle this?

Time to separate the wers from the boys!

Real wers don't eat quiche!