Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The final word on the "War of the Genders"

By Aussiegirl

In the matter of the ongoing discussions pertaining to matters which divide the sexes -- as blogmistress I reserve the prerogative to put the final word to the discussion -- or at least to publish my thoughts on the front page (hehe -- being sole editor does have its compensations after all). Mr. Michael Morrison averred that he had ceded to the politically correct usage of the term "gender" to denote sex because, he said, the usage of the latter term has increasingly come to imply the action of "congress", as he so delicately put it. Herewith my thoughts on that topic, ketchup, male-female relations and the final word on the GPS. As always, feel free to comment further. The dance is a never ending one, and the range of subjects is inexhaustible. (OK -- I didn't mention the Stooges but I needed a visual aid)

Ultima Thule: The GPS navigation device, The Three Stooges, Ketchup and other assorted questions of the war between the sexes

Well, as usual, thanks for all the excellent comments, guys. I'm going to have to see if I can't hold up the woman's end of this discussion.

To my dear friend Michael M. -- as much as I appreciate your comments, this member of the fair sex will never use the term "gender" to denote the sexes, regardless of the increasing ubiquitousness of its usage. I find gender simply unacceptable. And it strikes me as curious that in this "sex-saturated culture, where the leftist promulgators of the new amorality push us at every turn to abandon our natural modesties and reticence about discussing private matters in public, they should suddenly develop such a squeamishness and prudishness when it comes to the perfectly good term for the male and female sex.

After all, are we to have the "Battle of the Genders" from now on? How silly that sounds -- no, my dear - it shall always be the "Battle of the Sexes" and long may it reign, as it provides much of the spice of life, much like ketchup -- vive la difference!

How is it that it is the same radical lesbians who insist that we stage dramas called the "Vagina Monologues" who suddenly shrink from using the term "sex"? Is it because, as Pindar stated - there are more than two genders in grammatical constructions?

As for the GPS, I have no particular opinion, and it sounds like a fun, if expensive gadget. If men are happy using it then I suppose in the long run it will lead to happier marriages and fewer arguments between spouses over stopping for directions vs. driving around in circles.

As for maps -- I am the navigator in our family and am proud of my map reading skills, and indeed my sense of direction. I think a sense of direction is something you are either born with or not. Let's face it, like beauty, some of us have it and some of us don't.

As for ketchup, tomatoes and the general problem of vegetable vs. fruit I say -- your mama always told you to eat your vegetables and as always, mama was always right. And mama was a woman, so there you have it in a nutshell.

Actually I love ketchup -- it is actually a beloved Indian condiment (as I'm sure Pindar will give us the derivation of the word from Hindi or Sanskrit or such), and I relish (no pun intended) a little story I remember witnessing on a TV cooking show.

And Indian woman was giving a demonstration of her native cooking to a very effete male American host (as I recall, he appeared to be of an uncertain gender -- perhaps one of those third or fourth kinds that Pindar mentioned). She cooked various dishes and then she said, "You know, I always put a bit of ketchup in everything I cook. It has the tomatoes and all the seasonings already in there and always imparts a lovely sweet taste."

Well -- the American host was horrified! Ketchup!! The dreadful stuff that peons eat slathered on their common hamburgers at McD's? -- "Yes, she replied -- ketchup is an Indian sauce, and we use it in many of our dishes.

So there -- ketchup is not only a vegetable, it is a gourmet Indian food!


At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Pindar said...

Aussiegirl, thanks for bringing back your highly entertaining post on some of the eternal verities of life, like the Three Stooges and ketchup. This gives me a chance to add my two cents. I've copied and pasted Michael Morrison's two comments on Malay words in English here: At 2:28 PM, Michael Morrison said...
However, the word itself is Malay.
It is, I believe, the only Malay word in the English language.
Aren't you glad I read here?
At 2:44 PM, Michael Morrison said...
Woops, sorry.
There is one more Malay word in English: Amok. Sometimes spelled amuck (though not by me).
I knew when I said the above there might be one more.
Perhaps half a mind is better than none.
Michael, I found a website that lists, believe it or not, 23 words that English borrowed from Malay. Here is the list:
agar: Gelatenous substance for growing bacteria or fungus.
amok : As in "to run amok".
bamboo: One of many plant, fruit and animal words from Malay.
bantam: A small aggressive cock named after a region in Java.
batik: A Javanese method of dying cloth.
caddy: As in "tea caddy".
cockatoo: A type of parrot.
compound: enclosure.
gamelan: Orchestra made of percussion instruments.
gecko: Insect eating lizard.
gingham: Striped or checked cotton cloth.
gong: Metal disc used in percussion.
junk: The sailing vessel.
launch: A type of boat.
mangosteen: A tropical fruit.
orang-utan: Large orange Asian ape.
paddy: An area for growing rice.
pangolin: A scaly ant-eater.
rambutan: A tropical fruit.
rattan: Climbing palm used for making furniture.
sago: Palm starch used for puddings.
sarong: A cloth wrapped around the lower body.
satay: Meat grilled on sticks and dipped in peanut sauce.

You'll notice that the word "ketchup" isn't listed. Probably the reason is that "ketchup" is originally from a Chinese dialect; here I quote what I found in another source: "Ketchup" is a Chinese word in origin. In the Amoy dialect of southeastern China, "koechiap" means "brine of fish". It was acquired by English, probably via Malay "kichap", towards the end of the 17th century, when it was usually spelled "catchup" [in a book published in 1690 it is "defined as "a high East-India sauce"]. Shortly afterwards the spelling "catsup" came into vogue (Jonathan Swift is the first on record as using it, in 1730)...."[K]etchup" has gradually established itself since the early 18th century. (A final note: the word "compound" listed above and defined as "enclosure"...that will be familiar to celebrity watchers from the famous "Kennedy compound".)

At 8:21 PM, Blogger Michael Morrison said...

Great stuff, Pindar. Thank you for the update.
My dictionary says "kechap" but ears hear differently.
Please, please tell me the URL.
Thank you.

At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Pindar said...

Thanks for tuning in to my comment; I missed Aussiegirl's post and the comments the first time she posted it. Here's the URL:
I was astonished to find so many Malay words in English, but I probably shouldn't have been, since English has always been so wonderfully hospitable to so very many languages and borrowed words so readily...thank heavens we never had an Academy of Language to forbid the use of such superb words with precise meanings. Which seems better, saying "you know, Michael, I've always wanted to live in a usually one-storied house of a type first developed in India and characterized by low sweeping lines and a wide veranda"...or "you know, Michael, I've always wanted to live in a bungalow".

At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Pindar said...

Michael, for some reason the link in my previous comment doesn't work, so here it is again: Malay URL.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

To avoid the risk of running amok on this whole Malay linguistic derivation thing, I thought I would change the subject and point out that TOMATO Ketchup is just one variety of the sauce; there used to be other varieties of ketchup. Mushroom ketchup was very popular,as was walnut and anchovie based ketchups.

I am given to understand that the word Ketchup comes from Ke-tsiap, which means ``the brine of pickled fish`` (yuck).

Here is a brief overview of condiments.

(It just occured to me that we`re spending considerable time discussing condiments! We`ve all got to get a life!)

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Aussiegirl said...

Tim -- now that you mention it we are spending a lot of time on condiments. Perhaps it is time we moved on -- seafood? -- or steak.

And thanks to Pindar, as usual, for the info on the amazing variety of Malay words in the English language. Thank goodness we do not try to purge our language of foreign words like the stupid French do - perhaps that's why we do not have to say "the fingers of my feet".

And it's what makes English such a rich and varied language, with dozens and dozens of synomyms to choose from. In French, I can merely say "vite" -- but in English I can say -- swift, rapid, speedy, brisk, fast, breakneck, coursing, pell-mell, quick, nimble, agile, etc.

At 3:15 AM, Blogger Michael Morrison said...

English has, at some previous count, about 750,000 words (probably many more now) and the poor benighted French have about 250,000.
As Aus said, English, even the American variety, has so many shadings and degrees, it truly is a thing of beauty.
It tickles me no end that we can now say, "English is the lingua franca of the world."
The very words of that phrase bring delight.
Still, and it's a shame, not enough people use English -- especially here in the United States.
Oh, and Pindar, many thanks for the corrected link.


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