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Husband and Wife

 
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eldin raigmore
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Joined: 03 May 2007
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Location: SouthEast Michigan

PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:10 pm    Post subject: Husband and Wife Reply with quote

(Yet Another English Usage Thread.)
(If you're a native Anglophone, tell me what country you're from and how old you are when you answer this.) (edit: changed your to you're)


To me, "Husband" connotes both "male spouse" and "woman's spouse".
To me, "Wife" connotes both "female spouse" and "man's spouse".

So when two people of the same sex are married to each other, I'm
comfortable hearing either of them referred to as the other's "spouse", but not
as the other's "husband" nor as the other's "wife".

I'm a 59-y/o USAmerican living in southeast Michigan (for 15 years now).

Maybe my language is just behind the times.
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Last edited by eldin raigmore on Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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killerken



Joined: 30 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm 20 and live in Tampa, FL, but I'm from NE Indiana (Ft. Wayne). I agree with your definitions of husband and wife. However, I'm father old fashioned regarding my general ideas about marriage. So while I don't see anything wrong with your discomfort, other, more "progressive" people may be more offended by your "closed-mindedness".


Also, you used the wrong "you're".
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Tolkien_Freak



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

killerken wrote:
I'm 20 and live in Tampa, FL, but I'm from NE Indiana (Ft. Wayne). I agree with your definitions of husband and wife. However, I'm father old fashioned regarding my general ideas about marriage. So while I don't see anything wrong with your discomfort, other, more "progressive" people may be more offended by your "closed-mindedness".


I pretty much think the same thing.

(I'm 17 in Austin, TX.)
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achemel



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm almost 22 in PA, and I also agree with the above definitions of husband and wife.
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Aert



Joined: 03 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's why they use the term 'partner' Smile
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Hemicomputer



Joined: 04 Feb 2008
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Location: Calgary, Alberta

PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm 16, living in Alberta, Canada. I've always (i.e., since before I had heard of same-sex marriage) thought of "husband" as meaning only "male spouse" and "wife" as meaning only "female spouse". So, I would find nothing unusual in referring to a woman's wife or a man's husband.

I would say this is probably because all other gender-specific kin-terms I know refer to the gender of the person bearing the term, rather than the sex of the person you are relating them to. (I am a son to both my mother or my father, an aunt is still an aunt to both her nephews and her nieces, etc.) Part of it might be that I can't stand the word "partner" (or, worse still, "lifepartner") when applied to a marriage. I find it too professional and impersonal to describe a loving relationship.

I can understand how people would think of it the other way. I'm certainly not offended by what semantic norms other people use.
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eldin raigmore
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

killerken wrote:
Also, you used the wrong "you're".
Yes, I see that I did. I edited it to correct it.
BTW you said "father" when you meant "rather".

killerken wrote:
I'm 20 and live in Tampa, FL, but I'm from NE Indiana (Ft. Wayne). I agree with your definitions of husband and wife. However, I'm frather old fashioned regarding my general ideas about marriage. So while I don't see anything wrong with your discomfort, other, more "progressive" people may be more offended by your "closed-mindedness".

I didn't talk about "definitions"; if I had, I would have said "denotes" instead of "connotes".
I think it's possible that, linguistically speaking, all we Anglophones are "rather old-fashioned" regarding marriages that aren't between exactly one man and exactly one woman, since for centuries nearly all of us encountered only (or almost only) such marriages except when dealing with other cultures than our own.
I personally have no problem regarding those couples as actually married and calling them "a married couple"; nor have I any problem calling each of them the other's "spouse" and regarding them so.
I just feel a sort of "hitch in my step", linguistically, whenever I hear of a man's husband or a woman's wife.
BTW; Thanks, @killerken.

Tolkien_Freak wrote:
I pretty much think the same thing. (I'm 17 in Austin, TX.)
Thanks, @T_F.

achemel wrote:
I'm almost 22 in PA, and I also agree with the above definitions of husband and wife.
I deliberately chickened out of providing a "definition". I talked about "connotations" rather than "denotations".
But (at least) three other people -- fellow members of Vreleksá -- clearly at least feel the same connotations I feel. And thanks for saying so. (Also, any who don't feel those same connotations, and say you don't; thanks to you, too.)

Aert wrote:
That's why they use the term 'partner' Smile
I know a heterosexual couple who have been together for decades and call each other "my life-partner". I'm sure they both love each other and have sexual intercourse together (well, since they're more than a decaede older than me, maybe by now it's just fond memories of past sexual intercourse; I don't actually know).
For married homosexual couples, I feel comfortable with the term "spouse".
I've known a youngish heterosexual couple -- back when I was in my thirties and they were around my age -- who, because each of them had had a bad experience with a previous marriage, had a "civil union" which was legally registered as a partnership, as if it were a business partnership. I'm absolutely certain that "business" was not the main focus of their relationship. The main focus was probably raising their children (his, hers, and theirs), and the second-to-main was probably their sexual attraction to each other. But when you have children together and/or live together -- and they did -- there is an awful lot of property-law and money and budget and wills etc. to consider.
Same-sex marriages are still pretty damned rare, and I've known very few same-sex couples; probably only one. I have known "half" (i.e. one member) of several such couples; and my ex-wife knew some.
The only both-female couple I know now will call themselves "married" to each other if the only other choice is to deny that they're a committed couple (such as checking the boxes on Facebook); but if given their choice of vocabulary they call their relationship a "civil union", and say they had a "commitment ceremony" rather than a "wedding". FAIK that may be a function solely of what state (i.e. Michigan) they live in. They do raise their children together.

BTW thank you, @Aert. Are you an L1-Anglophone? If so, what are your feelings (and thoughts) on the matter, where did you learn to speak English, and when did you learn to speak English?

Hemicomputer wrote:
I'm 16, living in Alberta, Canada. I've always (i.e., since before I had heard of same-sex marriage) thought of "husband" as meaning only "male spouse" and "wife" as meaning only "female spouse". So, I would find nothing unusual in referring to a woman's wife or a man's husband.

I would say this is probably because all other gender-specific kin-terms I know refer to the gender of the person bearing the term, rather than the sex of the person you are relating them to. (I am a son to both my mother or my father, an aunt is still an aunt to both her nephews and her nieces, etc.)
That's a good point. If we were trying for a definition -- denotations only, not connotations too -- that argument could very well carry the day.

Hemicomputer wrote:
Part of it might be that I can't stand the word "partner" (or, worse still, "lifepartner") when applied to a marriage. I find it too professional and impersonal to describe a loving relationship.
I think that feeling, too, is an artifact of the fact that, for centuries (though maybe not quite so many centuries), English speakers have heard of long-term "partnerships" only in re business, and other "partnerships" were for games and were temporary.
However as you can see by the examples I gave above, there are couples (both of my examples were heterosexual, as it happens) who clearly share both love and sex and yet call their relationship a "partnership" rather than a "marriage". I think this is a new usage of an old word; and it's used because it's the legal name of an old legal arrangement that these couples have tasked with a new use. Naturally, though, it still carries the connotations of "professional" and/or "strictly business" if permanent, and of "just for fun" and "just one night" if not.
Or, at least, I guess so (that is, most of the above).

Hemicomputer wrote:
I can understand how people would think of it the other way. I'm certainly not offended by what semantic norms other people use.
Not sure why or which "semantic norms" you mean. This is, clearly, semantic; but a "norm" is kind of like a "rule", isn't it? Or, maybe, kind of like an "average"?
Also, I don't think it's "thinking" another way so much as "feeling" another way.
I could be either slightly off or way off about any or all of that.

And, Thanks!, @Hemicomputer.
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Aert



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Eldin:
I live in BC, Canada, and am a 20-year old English-L1.
I have no problem with hearing spouse or partner for a non-hetero couple; I also have no problem hearing 'husband' for a gay man's partner or 'wife' for a lesbian's partner.

Maybe this is just me: my girlfriend is bi, I hang out in a Q-bar (LGBT etc), and have several non-hetero friends - I'm not active in the LGBT community but have catered at a Pride reading (gay literature, etc), which was pretty cool.

If we're talking simply about connotation, 'husband' to me indicates a woman's male partner, but that's because it's more commonly heard. Same goes for 'wife.'
As for politically-correct terms like 'civil union' and 'commitment ceremony' etc, though personally I don't care what people call it I'd rather they simply say what it is rather than something with all but neutral connotations.

When it comes to the issue of 'marriage' though, personally I don't care if the partnership between two people happens to be written and signed or not - it's between two people, not them and the government or whatever. If they're loyal to each other then they'll stay together and I'd hate for a couple to stay together simply for a piece of paper.
As for gay marriage, of course it's a civil rights thing - anyone should be allowed to choose to marry whomever they choose; I'm just saying that in my opinion marriage is an interpersonal thing rather than a legal one.

With regard to definition, I doubt that a coinage will work: the attempt at a neutral third person pronoun failed miserably. If dictionary definition is revised to marriage being between two consenting human beings, then obviously that's a step forward, but the definition also needs to change in the minds of the people, which either will happen slowly (due to subsequent generational advancement of previous cultural definitions), or abruptly, with a successful and impactful civil rights movement.

Just my two cents Smile
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Hemicomputer



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

eldin raigmore wrote:
Hemicomputer wrote:
Part of it might be that I can't stand the word "partner" (or, worse still, "lifepartner") when applied to a marriage. I find it too professional and impersonal to describe a loving relationship.
...as you can see by the examples I gave above, there are couples (both of my examples were heterosexual, as it happens) who clearly share both love and sex and yet call their relationship a "partnership" rather than a "marriage".
I definitely understand that. I too know a lot of loving and committed couples who call themselves partners/lifepartners. I just feel, as you put it, a linguistic "hitch in my step" when I hear "partner" refer to a loving relationship.

eldin raigmore wrote:
Hemicomputer wrote:
I can understand how people would think of it the other way. I'm certainly not offended by what semantic norms other people use.
Not sure why or which "semantic norms" you mean. This is, clearly, semantic; but a "norm" is kind of like a "rule", isn't it? Or, maybe, kind of like an "average"?
Also, I don't think it's "thinking" another way so much as "feeling" another way.
By "semantic norm" I meant "what one considers the normal meaning/usage of a word". The meaning I understand for "norm" is just "something that is considered normal". Your semantic norm for "husband" would be something like "a woman's male spouse", and so other usages (like to describe a man's spouse) feel abnormal to you.
It probably is more a matter of feeling than thinking, but I tend to think of those as nearly the same in certain contexts.
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killerken



Joined: 30 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="eldin raigmore"]
killerken wrote:
Also, you used the wrong "you're".
Yes, I see that I did. I edited it to correct it.
BTW you said "father" when you meant "rather".


Oh no! Now we're even! Laughing I made it small to seem less Nazi-ish.
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