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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-03-05 19:28
Subject: Thot for the day
Security: Public
Tags:funny, language, words
Why does /fort/ have a femine? /fortress/ doesn't seem to be an obviously female sort of thing.
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Mer, rhymes with bear
User: merriehaskell
Date: 2007-03-06 03:41 (UTC)
Subject: My husband calls me The Comedy Killer. Here's why.
Fortress is derived from Old French forteresse--forteresce, so the "ress" as a feminine attribute is possibly a false etymology, or else simply attributable to the whole "French is a gendered language" thing. Aaaaand... looking at the entries for "fort" versus "fortress" in the OED suggests that fortress predates fort by a couple hundred years, so the masculine-seeming version is probably just a shortened form.
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User: swan_tower
Date: 2007-03-06 04:33 (UTC)
Subject: Re: My husband calls me The Comedy Killer. Here's why.
Keyword:academia
Ah, gendered language. I snickered when I discovered the Latin word for "manliness" or "male genitalia" is a feminine noun. Yes, I know grammatical gender =/= human gender, but it's still amusing.
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Kevin Roche
User: kproche
Date: 2007-03-06 03:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
from http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/f/f0272600.html


fortress etymology
[Middle English forteress, from Old French, from Medieval Latin fortalitia, from Latin fortis, strong; see bhergh-2 in Indo-European roots.]
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Simon Haynes
User: halspacejock
Date: 2007-03-06 05:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Maybe it's the same reason 'butt' has a feminine?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-03-06 12:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If I'd been drinking something when I read this, you'd owe me a keyboard.

:: falls out laughing ::

And not only do Gothic cathedrals have buttresses, they have groins.
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Norilana
User: norilana
Date: 2007-03-06 06:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Speaking as someone whose brain has been first exposed to a gendered language (Russian), in Russian the word for fort/fortress is only feminine, "krepost" and it's a "she." Maybe the sense is of safety, motherly strength...
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corvida
User: corvida
Date: 2007-03-06 07:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's female because it's built to keep out people that always want in.

Also see fortrette.
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Misty Marshall: Mistyoh
User: mistymarshall
Date: 2007-03-06 08:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Mistyoh
ROFLOL
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-03-06 12:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
:: giggles more ::
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mssrcrankypants
User: mssrcrankypants
Date: 2007-03-06 11:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The suffix -ess in this instance probably isn't the feminine but rather derived from the L. -itia, which creates nouns of quality or condition. It's the same suffix that gives us duress and largess (both also formed from Latin adjectival stems plus this suffix).
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-03-06 12:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Is /largesse/ simply a variant of /largess/, or are there any differences, or am I an idiot?

(And btw, that's an excellent answer. Thank you.)
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Rafe
User: etcet
Date: 2007-03-06 13:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
/fortress/ doesn't seem to be an obviously female sort of thing.

You've never worn a corset, have you?

;-)
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