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  1. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Reading the answer to my question I've found an interesting word. I mean the word "wight".
    "Wight" is archaic a human being, as dictionaries say.
    I wonder: what sex they prefer to relate it to?
    For example the word "man" also means a human being (in general), but they prefer to call so a male person.
    Is there the same story with "wight"?
     
  2. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    OE wiht can refer to a living or supernatural being of any sex, or with no sex. As far as I know, it does not default to a male referent.
     
  3. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    For what it's worth, in German the word is still in use (spelled Wicht) and there it does default to a male referent though a female Wicht wouldn't be considered a contradiction in terms.
     
  4. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    It's nice of you to restore this post as well! :)
    To be honest I've asked about sex because I often feel perplexed about this. I mean the situation when in letters or in conversations I'm forced to choose some word to call a person without any gender accent. One indifferent word isn't enough (at least it seems to me), but as I can see the most of words calling a human being have some gender tone, and even such neutral word as "friend" implies a man in the first place (I should add "female" if I want to accent that it's a girl). So if I prefer to keep in secret somebody's gender I often stick. Even in Russian the word "человек" is taken in the thirst instance as a man (a male), although a woman is a man (human being) i.e. "человек" too.
    Seems that women always had such privilege to be called as something special and not to be counted or talked about :)
    I'm not a feminist, but every now and then this grammatical aspect makes some discomfort. :confused:
     
  5. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    In Norwegian, as indeed in the of Scandinavia, the cognate vette (Sw. vätte) refers to a supernatural being of either (or no) sex. As for gender-laden words - the word mann in Norwegian has increasingly become gender neutral, simply meaning "person". Yes, it can also mean "husband" or simply "man", but e.g. the demonym nordmann (Norwegian), tjenestemann (civil servant) and brannmann (fire fighter) is used for both sexes.
     
  6. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    But if also "defaults" to a male. 95% of all picture of a vätte are with a grey or white beard. The difference between the North- and West-Germanic words is that in West-Germanic Wicht/wight may also refers to supernatural beings but that is not the usage. In German, when we use is in the North-Germanic sense (mainly in fairy-tales of Scandinavian origin) we usually use the the diminutive Wichtel(mann). The non-diminutive usually refers to people, mainly as part of set phrases and somewhat derogatory (armer Wicht=poor devil; Bösewicht ("evil-wight")=villain).
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  7. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Mmm... Do I understand right: if I call my friend "wight", people maybe won't guess whether it's a boy or a girl, but they will rather suppose that he/she is an elf? :)
     
  8. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    No, that's North Germanic. English is West-Germanic and also the modern meaning in English is closer to the German than to the Scandinavian meaning. Webster defines wight as "a living being : creature" and adds: "especially : a human being".
     
  9. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    So my "friend" sooner will be get as a human, not as a cat, am I right?
     
  10. djmc Senior Member

    France
    English - United Kingdom
    The word may be used by dialect but I haven't come across it. Otherwise it is used by Spenser in the late Century and he was using an archaic term even then. I would think few English would know the word, so I would avoid using it.
     
  11. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Hi!
    No, I will not say it defaults to male (other than being a Masculine word). "Vette" is like "fugl" (bird) - it simply denotes a 'species', so I believe it has taken the step into becoming gender neutral. E.g. "Huldra" (sexually alluring creature with a cow's tail) is always female, but is still considered a "vette", akin to various forms of trolls and underground people. "Nisse" (gnome) is also of "vette"-kin, but but can be wither sex (they live in families). Admittedly - most "vette" are indeed male (I think - they are hard to verify:))
     
  12. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Oh, seems that they won't understand whom I'm talking about at all.
    Such a pity! I hoped for that word (even if it's archaic). So what have I got in addition to the word person?
    Maybe creature or thing? But I can't say "that's the goods".
     

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