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Friday, June 15, 2012

Are you father-wauer or father-better? The forgotten language of fathers | Katherine Connor Martin, OxfordWords blog

With Father's Day coming in just a couple of days, here's an appropriate article. It might not be all that useful these days, but I found it interesting.

As Martin writes:
The history of the English language reveals some different and even surprising associations in some rare words and meanings alluding to the paternal parent. Some of these largely forgotten words may be worthy of a revival: in honor of Father’s Day, why not be a philopater and promise Dad you’ll patrizate?
About that headline, Martin explains:
Are you father-waur or father-better? These early Scots words mean ‘worse than one’s father’ and ‘better than one’s father,’ respectively, establishing dear old dad as the standard by which one is judged. In the 1535 Buik of the Croniclis of Scotland, the British chieftain Caratacus is quoted as rallying his men by reminding them of their fathers’ valor and urging “lat ws nocht be cawit fader war” (let us not be called father-waur). If being father-waur was dishonorable, being father-better was aspirational. The Scottish clergyman Robert Baillie closed a 1645 letter to the Earl of Lauderdale with greetings to the Earl’s wife and to his son “whom I pray God to bless, and make father-better.” ...
She continues with other old, odd words and terms, under these headings:
  • Like father, like progeny
  • A more feminine side
  • Political aspirations
  • Father-love
BTW, this article is in today's The Write Style: Editorial Choices, available at the Editorial Style tab above (and by free subscription).

For other similar articles, check out Garbl's Word Links. It's an annotated directory of websites that can help you discover, understand and use (or avoid) Latin and Greek derivations, misused words, unusual words, word origins, new words and slang. You'll also find separate sections below on spelling and vocabulary.

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