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Old September 26th, 2010, 05:33 AM   #1
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Do you add -ess to words? eg. Lawyeress?

At the range a couple days ago, someone called me a shootress. I was very offended, because I like to be called a shooter.

I looked it up, and it is correct, though-should I use it, or is it demeaning?

Here's what I found:

From The Elements of English Grammar (1894):
Occupations once reserved to men are now thrown open to women. If we wish to mark the female sex of the persons following these occupations, we must either use compounds and say lady-doctor, lady-lawyer, or manufacture inflected forms and say doctress, lawyeress.

From The history of the famous preacher, Friar Gerund de Campazas: otherwise Gerund Zotes (1758):
Whilst he was a writer to the Notary at St. Milan, he had observed in various processes such expressions as these, Mary Gavilan, the fourth witness, being examined, &c. Ann Palomo, the eighth witness, &c. this hurt him infinitely; for, said he within himself, if a man is a witness, a women must necessarily be a witnessess since otherwise, the sexes are confounded, [...] Neither could he suffer that the author of "The Life and Miracles of St. Catherine" should say, Catherine, the subject of our history; seeming to him that Catherine and subject were false concord, since it amounted to the same as to say, Catherine, the man of our history, it being a plain case that men only ought to be called subjects, and women subjectesses. But if he met in a book with such an expression as, She was not a common woman, but a genius and an elegant writer, he totally lost his patience, and said to his scholars, all furious and flaming with wrath, "Intolerable! What is there more to be done, but to take off our beards and breeches and put them upon women! Why should it not be said, She was not a common woman, but a geniusess and an elegant writrix?"
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