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Ms. Daughter, Mr. Son

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Topic: 6) Ms. Daughter, Mr. Son (1 of 6), Read 52 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Wednesday, September 22, 1999 09:02 AM

Two people wrote in separately seeking the same Fugitive:


Marion Greenman, of Riverside, Ill., writes: "I would like a word for adult children. In a writing class, I came up with 'chaidult,' but there must be something better. Besides, nobody around me ever listens to me."


Dr. Ralph W. Milligan, of Lake Charles, La., writes: "I think the English language desperately needs a (non-gender-specific) word for an offspring who is acknowledged to be an adult. My eldest daughter is still my daughter, but is certainly no longer my child. But 'daughter' is nonspecific--it could denote either a child or an adult. If there were a word that meant specifically 'adult offspring,' a parent's choice to use the word (or avoid using the word!) would say a great deal about his or her feelings about the offspring. Some have suggested taking the word 'scion' and grafting this new meaning on to it. As yet, I have no better suggestion."


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Topic: 6) Ms. Daughter, Mr. Son (2 of 6), Read 47 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Michael Fischer (tsuwm@aol.com)
Date: Wednesday, September 22, 1999 03:21 PM

>Two people wrote in separately seeking the same Fugitive:

not only that, but this was the subject of a previous fugitive; to wit:

children

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Topic: 6) Ms. Daughter, Mr. Son (3 of 6), Read 43 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Wednesday, September 22, 1999 04:29 PM

Good for you, Michael -- are you trying to be named Word Fugitives Bureau of Investigation Agent of the Week *again*? I wasn't sure if anyone else would remember the previous thread. And thanks for the cross-reference. Those checking it out will note, though, that no consensus about the Fugitive in question was reached.

Maybe this will be a fruitful line of thought: It seems to me that "daughters" and "sons" carry weaker connotations of childishness than "children" does, so, really, the problem is limited to those situations in which a parent wants to refer to offspring of both sexes. "Daughtsons"? Nah -- sounds like a kind of car. "Sonters"? Or does this idea intersect with the "sans slash" one and what we really need is a better way to say "sons and/or daughters"?

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Topic: 6) Ms. Daughter, Mr. Son (4 of 6), Read 26 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: John Posten (repsap@yahoo.com)
Date: Thursday, September 30, 1999 03:07 PM

Its interesting that the language fails in describing the nuances of the parent/child relationship. I'm reminded of a failed effort to find a word for "outliving one's child" earlier this summer.

http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/fugitives/losschild.htm

The words for parents, children and relatives offer some bloodline specificity but none of the specific character of the unique relationship between two related persons. Only our slang gives a peek into that interaction (instead of grandfather, gramps, granpop, pop-pop, etc.). We can almost infer the age of the addressor in these forms of address.

Then there's the problem of step and adoptive relations. As our society increases their numbers the lack of adequate terms will aggravate our frustrations.

I feel, though, that the language resists attempts to accrete additional aspects to the blood relationship. Its eerie.

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Topic: 6) Ms. Daughter, Mr. Son (5 of 6), Read 28 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Michael Fischer (tsuwm@aol.com)
Date: Thursday, September 30, 1999 03:38 PM

>Then there's the problem of
>step and adoptive relations.

no kidding (no pun). my nephew's fiance's adoptive mother died and she (the fiance) subsequently found her birth mother and discovered there were half/step siblings. I am very confused as to how to refer to all of this.

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Topic: 6) Ms. Daughter, Mr. Son (6 of 6), Read 7 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Charles Elster (chelster@juno.com)
Date: Wednesday, October 13, 1999 03:29 PM

Assuming the child has left home, how about "offsprung"? It works as a singular or plural.


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