Philology Phriday–Right

1 Oct

It is time that this author show the world, that is the few if any people still reading these here word-thoughts, about the pervasively ensconcing quality of everyday language. You have heard of phallocentrism, maybe even phallologocentrism. You’ve been asked in all your lit classes what the place of the female character in the narrative, how she functions, may hint at the possibility that a male writer for some strange reason would actually want to subjugate the general female populace at large. You probably thought, “Hmmm. Aight.” You thought it was a cool trick of language, nothing more. Nothing less. But then it became a trend. And trends are more than just tricks.

But I have to clue you into something even more pervasive, something even more sickeningly subtle though powerful. The first time I saw it, I may have vomited a little bit. My heart, and this is sure, clenched. What was it that I saw? The OED’s entry for “right (n)”. That’s right. Do you want to see what I saw? I warn you, the following block quotation is intellectually graphic and deconstructively/ more generally just like postmodernistly really troubling to those of us who like to think that we believe in the equality of all people:

In Middle English the semantic development was probably influenced by similar developments shown by Anglo-Norman and Old French dreit, Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French droit DROIT n.1, as were a number of phrasal constructions.

Even the message conveying the perpetuated subjugation going on from what seems to be the early Anglo-Norman era of linguistic dominance in the then-unformed Western World, the message is a bit underhanded.

DROIT, from what I know literally means the right side. But it’s use, parallel and equally as cunning as the English RIGHT, under the postmodern, cosmopolitan we like all have rights microscope becomes this singular, pinprick prescription to cast aside all that is on the left. RIGHT’s first uses in Old English imply a sense that the right is what is “proper, correct, [and] consonant with justice” (OED). And the uses cascade from that droplet, forming a Niagra Falls that overpowers even the most stringent.

Defining the right as the just, by difference, makes the left the not-just. And this is where I get angry. No, not because I’m left handed. I’m not sick like that. I mean. I care about the left. About all directions. Back is no better that forward, left and right no better than each other. It is unjust to connect the just with the right, and I, as a Gaucher, cannot stand for it. It is time, my left-handed compatriots, that we grab each other’s dominant hands and form a circle, large and grand, to show the world, the West, with its wily word use, just how we feel about this now-termed adroitocentrism. We must, if only because we can.


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