As with Mrs and Miss in their time as derivations of mistress, common usage has now established Ms as equally acceptable.
I have heard some amusing explanations of Mrs, but B. Gorman's claim (Letters, January 29) that by adding a superfluous apostrophe (Mr's) it denotes ownership by a man had me rolling with laughter.
Mister and master are derivations from Old English via Old French of maitre, denoting a property or house holder. As in nouns such as actor/actress, emperor/ empress, etc, Mr is the abbreviated form of mister, and feminine is mistress abbreviated to Mrs. Miss is simply another abbreviation of mistress, which like the word itself acquired other connotations. The most common are an unmarried woman or a young girl.
Contrary to feminist beliefs, originally neither marital status nor ownership were indicated by either Mrs or Miss.
I was once given a similar misconstruction by a feminist who complained of the term "manning", in the mistaken belief that it implied exclusively male staffing.
The correct derivation of this is from the Latin "manus" meaning a hand, as in maniple (a small unit of legionaries or handful) from which comes manipulate, which is what B. Gorman is attempting to do with the English language.
Laurence Keen, Helsby, Cheshire
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Feb 8, 2002|
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