Thursday, May 24, 2007

Suffering Suffixes: "-ική" and "-ic"

Suppose someone coined the words ῥητορική and feministic. Who?

Rhetorician Edward Schiappa makes an excellent case that Plato coined ῥητορική. In fact, Schiappa observes, "Plato's creative use of language is well established, as is his need to invent a proper philosophical vocabulary. In particular, it is significant that Plato was a prolific coiner of words ending with -ική denoting 'art of'" ("Did Plato Coin Rhetorike," 464).

Afterwards, Plato's neologisms were readily adopted. For example, Aristotle in the Rhetoric alone (by my count) uses some 33 different terms with the suffix -ική; and he uses these words some 519 times.

But where did Plato get the suffix -ική? How early in Greece did it appear? No -ική word can be found in the fragments of Sappho's poetry. Neither does any such term show up in Homer's Illiad. (These findings are by my very careful search).

And yet, as early perhaps as the 690s BCE, Homer (in the epic Odyssey) and Hesiod (in the poem, Work and Days) use a word with the -ική suffix. They use only one word, the same single word, suggesting to me that one of these two poets coined the term and the other borrowed it. Hesiod includes the word twice in his poem; Homer but once. The neologism is παρθενικῇ (an ostensibly newly-coined variant of the much more common παρθενικός, for "virgin" or "maiden").

Here then are the contexts in which Hesiod's and Homer's παρθενικῇ can be found. I'm including, line by line, Daryl Hine's English translation of Work and Days and Johan Heinrich Voss's translation of the Odyssey (from the Chicago Homer). The boldings and underlinings are added:

WD.60 φαιστον δ' κλευσε περικλυτν ττι τχιστα
WD.60 Then he commanded Hephaistus the world-famed craftsman as soon as

WD.61 γααν δει φρειν, ν δ' νθρπου θμεν αδν
WD.61 Possible to mix water and earth, and infuse in it human

WD.62 κα σθνος, θαντς δ θες ες πα ἐΐσκειν
WD.62 Speech, also strength, and to make it look like a goddess, and give it

WD.63 παρθενικς καλν εδος πρατον:
WD.63 Likewise a girl-like form that was pretty and lovesome.


WD.516 κα τε δι' αγα ησι ταντριχα: πεα δ' οτι,
WD.516 Also it [the North Wind] blows through the goat's fine hairs, but the fleece of a sheep

WD.517 ονεκ' πηετανα τρχες ατν, ο διησι
WD.517 Cannot because it is so close-packed that the powerful North Wind

WD.518 ς νμου Βορω: τροχαλν δ γροντα τθησιν
WD.518 Cant penetrate it, which nonetheless easily bowls over old men.

WD.519 κα δι παρθενικς παλχροος ο διησιν,
WD.519 Nor is it able to penetrate smooth-skinned virginal maidens

WD.520 τε δμων ντοσθε φλ παρ μητρι μμνει,
WD.520 As they abide in the house beside their affectionate mothers,

WD.521 οπω ργα δυα πολυχρσου φροδτης,
WD.521 Blissfully ignorant stir of the doings of gold Aphrodite.


OD.7.14 κα ττ' δυσσες ρτο πλινδ' μεν: μφ δ' θνη
OD.7.14 Just then Odysseus got up to go to the city. Athena poured

OD.7.15 πολλν ἠέρα χεε φλα φρονουσ δυσϊ,
OD.7.15 much mist about him, with dear thoughts for Odysseus,

OD.7.16 μ τις Φαικων μεγαθμων ντιβολσας
OD.7.16 lest any great-hearted Phaeacian, meeting him,

OD.7.17 κερτομοι τ' πεσσι κα ξεροιθ' τις εη.
OD.7.17 might taunt him with words and ask him who he was.

OD.7.18 λλ' τε δ ρ μελλε πλιν δσεσθαι ραννν,
OD.7.18 But when he was about to enter the fair city,

OD.7.19 νθα ο ντεβλησε θε, γλαυκπις θνη,
OD.7.19 bright-eyed goddess Athena met him

OD.7.20 παρθενικ ϊκυα νενιδι, κλπιν χοσ.
OD.7.20 in the guise of a young maiden woman holding a pitcher.

There are several very important things to note about the suffix -ική in the context of Hesiod's and Homer's poetry. First, the Greek suffix -ική seems to connote an adjectival meaning of quality. In English, adjectival suffixes of quality include "-ish," "-esque," "-al," "-y," "-ist" and "-istic" as in coinable words such as "virginish," "virginesque," "virginal," "virginy," "virginist," and "virginistic." Second, in Work and Days and in the Odyssey, the suffix -ική also allows the sense of "art of," the meaning that Schiappa says that Plato has for the word-ending. Third, then--with respect to translation in the three contexts (in the poetry lines) above--one might exchange for Daryl Hine's "girl-like" and "virginal" and for Johan Heinrich Voss's "guise of a maiden woman" the following: "with the skill of a virgin in being a virgin" or, to match Plato's shorthand, "virginistic."

Fourth, the artful/skillful feminist qualities of -ική attached to παρθενικός cannot be overlooked! In the first instance, Hesiod's poem suggests παρθενικῇ is something a) skillfully crafted; b) commonly human; c) divine in appearance; d) strongly, beautifully rhetorical (though ῥητορική was not yet coined); and in the form of a female. In the second use of παρθενικῇ, there is the metaphorical, poetic suggestion that the natural ability to resist (under a goddess's protection) the force of natural elements in the cold, North Wind IS virgin-like (especially when the maiden lives in her loving mother's home). Old men and goats are not so resilient. In the third use of παρθενικῇ (Homer's use of the coined term) above, there is the disguised manner with which Athena appears to the hero, Odysseus: neither as the word-taunting Phaeaician he expects nor as the bright-eyed goddess Homer's Greek audience knows, but as a virginistic young lady.


Feminist scholar Bonnie Blackwell makes an excellent case that British English speakers coined the word, feministic. The adjectival is formed from the double suffix, "-ist" + "-ic". A similar kind of suffix application occurred with the proper noun, Puritan. While such a noun can function just fine adjectivally (as in "a Puritan ideal"), English speakers have insisted on adding to the adjective "Puritan" not only "-ic" but also "-al"; the resulting double suffixed adjective is "puritanical." To find the etymologies of feministic, Blackwell advises (my) looking in the Oxford English Dictionary. Sure enough, there in the OED, I find the following:

femi'nistic, femini'nistic adjs.

1902 BEERBOHM Around Theatres (1924) I. 365 Ibsen's femininistic propaganda. 1908 Westm. Gaz. 11 Sept. 6/3 Some thinkers in Hungary anticipate feministic developments even in Turkey. 1912 Englishwoman Mar. 261 This society is only feministic in so far as it strives to give women better opportunities.

Blackwell adds that contemporary British feminists such as Juliett Mitchell and Germaine Greer along with American feminists including Kate Millett may occasionally use the double-suffix adjective form of feminist. The distinction between the two adjectives, feminist and feministic, is this: the former relates more often to the qualities of a person who is a feminist, the latter to less-personal and more-abstract qualities. Thus, "a feminist scholar" is a more typical use than "a feministic scholar"; and "feministic developments" might be preferred by some to "feminist developments."

Blackwell's observations about feminist vs. feministic are corroborated by those of folklorist Bruce Jackson, who muses about folklorist vs. folkloristic (and various such academic, technical terms) in his article "Folkloristics." (The article started a published controversy among folklorists apparently). Jackson theorizes the following:

The usual process is for an abstract noun or adjective (absolute, real, fatal) to be attributed to a person (absolutist, realist, fatalist) and thereby made into a noun of another order, and then for that noun to be turned into an adjective (absolutistic, realistic, fatalistic) . . . And it is the same for us: the person who studies the class of things called "folklore" is a "folklorist," and the adjective meaning "folklorist-like" is "folkloristic." "Folkloristic" as an adjective is correct when it refers to work done by folklorists; the adjective for material examined by folklorists is "folkloric." "Folkloristic research" means "the kind of research folklorists do," but not "research into folklore." (96).

I'll leave to you bloggers to figure out the connections, grammatically, between "feministic" and "folkloristic" and such. I do want to say that searches through,,, and all show that writers are publishing works in which they also now use the adverbial "feministically."

Suppose someone coined the words ῥητορική and feministic. What I have been trying to show here is how related the two terms are, not merely by the suffixes -ική and -ic but also by the inter-personal, subjective (dare I say, rhetorical and feministic?) ways we use them.

feministicization: hosting (not targeting) Aristotle our guest

Some feminists who are rhetoricians have been reluctant to include Aristotle and his Rhetoric in the canon of feminist rhetorics. Carol Poster, for example, insists that: “Aristotle has not, and in my opinion, should not be appropriated for feminist rhetoric”; Poster adds:

From the point of view of feminist historiography . . . we need to reposition rhetoric, with its acceptance of subjectivist epistemology and emotional discourse and its traditionally feminine connection with pedagogy closer to the center of philosophy, and reconstitute rhetoric by displacing Aristotle’s philosophical treatise [i.e., the Rhetoric] to the margins of the discipline and reasserting the value of (feminine) pedagogical rhetoric against the agonistic and dialectical Aristotelian model. ("(Re)positioning Pedagogy: A Feminist Historiography of Aristotle's Rhetorica," 327-28)

Similarly, Cheryl Glenn suggests the rhetorical question, “When considering the 'intellect' specifically, where is the historical, textual evidence of Aristotle's (rhetoric's) compatibility with feminism?” Glenn observes:

Aristotle makes no provision for the intellectual woman, except for his nod to Sappho: “Everyone honours the wise . . . . [T]he Mytilenaeans [honour] Sappho, though she was a woman” (Rhetoric 2.23.1389.b). Otherwise, Aristotle denied any philosophical or rhetorical contributions by women. (Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity Through the Renaissance, 49)

Nonetheless, a few feminists who are rhetoricians are more optimistic (and wisely, helpfully realistic) about the relationships between feminist rhetorics and Aristotle's. Glenn, for instance, has a more nuanced view in collaboration with Andrea Lunsford and Lisa Ede. The three scholars read Aristotle as theorizing a rhetoric which is hardly “manipulative, monologic, and rationalistic” (as is usually suggested by historiography of rhetoric and by translations of Aristotle's treatise). Rather, they say the Rhetoric (presumably in a feminist manner) theorizes “an interactive means of discovering meaning through language” (Border Crossings: Intersections of Rhetoric and Feminism,” 44).

Furthermore, a few feminists who are philosophers are as optimistic (and wisely, helpfully realistic) about the relationships between feminist rhetorics and Aristotle's. Eve Browning Cole, for example, reminds us that:

Aristotle is not . . . totally silent on the subject of women's virtue.
In the
Rhetoric, Aristotle describes women's virtues as being two-fold: “. . . in body, beauty and stature; in soul. self-command and an industry that is not sordid.” “Philergia,” translated “industry” above, really means “toil of love or “delight in hard work”; it is to be dissociated from sordidness (aneleutherias; literally “unfreedom” or perhaps “servility). ("Women, Slaves, and 'Love of Toil'," 131)

Cole adds how Aristotle attributes what is "naturally" male to a woman: "Agave has appropriated the male virtue of courage, the gender-symmetric partner of the emblem-virture of "philergia," which she has abandoned (cf. the passage from Aristotle's Rhetoric quoted . . . above)" ("Women, Slaves, and 'Love of Toil'," 140).

Likewise, Cynthia A. Freeland observes that Aristotle's rhetoric shares with feminist rhetorics the qualities of subjectivity and social-collaborative interdependence. Freeland writes:

Aristotle maintains that science must begin from premises that are self-evidently true and certain. This appears to require that the scientist be a sort of perfect knower, directly intuiting universal and necessary truths. Feminists sometimes criticize such conceptions of the autonomous and impersonal scientific inquirer. But in fact Aristotle believes that dialectic and rhetoric play an important role in getting the community of scientist to such starting-points. ("Nourishing Speculation," 158)

In what we might coin as "feministicization" (for feminist scholar appropriation of first-glance non-feminist ideas), might we (re)position Aristotle as a more welcome guest?

translation: hosting (not targeting) Aristotle our guest

Some rhetoricians have been reluctant to translate Aristotle. Thomas Conley, for example, insists that: "Anyone who is wholly dependent upon [Lane] Cooper’s translation—or any other scholar’s translation—is not likely to be able to read the Rhetoric acutely [sic].” And Jasper Neel confesses: “that I have offered more of a ‘transterpretation’ than a translation”—as if no translation ought to have interpretation in the target language of English, and as if a reading of the "original" Greek source language frees one of the need to interpret.

A few rhetoricians are more optimistic (and wisely, helpfully realistic). Richard Leo Enos, for instance, says:

The entire point of translations . . . is to put wisdom in the hands of readers who have an expertise other than philology, so that their insights can enrich our understanding in another dimension . . . . Aristotle’s Rhetoric can continue to enrich our discipline.
from, “The Classical Tradition(s) of Rhetoric: A Demur to the Country Club Set

The entire point of translation is the point of this blog.
On the entire point of translation, no one has written better (but has perhaps been read least) than Lydia H. Liu. Here, then, is some of what Liu writes:

As I have argued elsewhere, one does not translate between equivalents; rather, one creates tropes of equivalence in the middle zone of translation between the host and guest languages. This middle zone of hypothetical equivalence, which is occupied by neologistic imagination, becomes the very ground for change. (Tokens of Exchange: The Problem of Translation in Global Circulations: Post-Contemporary Interventions, 137)

I am interested in theoretical problems that lead up to an investigation of the condition of translation and of discursive practices that ensue from initial interlingual contacts between languages. Broadly defined, the study of translingual practice examines the process by which new words, meanings, discourses, and modes of representation arise, circulate, and acquire legitimacy within the host language due to, or in spite of, the latter’s contact/collision with the guest language. Meanings, therefore, are not so much “transformed” when concepts pass from the guest language to the host language as invented within the local environment of the latter. In that sense, translation is no longer a neutral even untouched by the contending interests of political and ideological struggles. Instead, it becomes the very site of such struggles where the guest language is forced to encounter the host language, where the irreducible differences between them are fought out, authorities invoked or challenged, ambiguities dissolved or created, and so forth, until new words and meaning emerge in the host language itself. I hope the notion of translingual practice will eventually lead to a theoretical vocabulary that helps account for the process of adaptation, translation, introduction, and domestication of words, categories, discourses, and modes of representation from one language to another and, furthermore, helps explain the modes of transmission, manipulation, deployment, and domination within the power structure of the host language. (Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity-China, 1900-1937, 26)

If it is always true that the translator or some other agent in the host language always initiates the linguistic transaction by inviting, selecting, combining, and reinventing words and texts from the guest language and, moreover, if the needs of the translator and his/her audience together determine and negotiate the meaning (i.e., usefulness) of the text taken from the guest language, then the terms traditional theorists of translation use to designate the languages involved in translation, such as “source” and “target/receptor,” are not only inappropriate but misleading. The idea of source language often relies on concepts of authenticity, origin, influence, and so on, and has the disadvantage of re-introducing the age-old problematic of translatability/un translatability in the discussion. On the other hand, the notion of target language implies a teleological goal, a distance to be crossed in order to reach the plentitude of meaning; it thus misrepresents the ways in which the trope of equivalence is conceived in the host language, relegating its agency to secondary importance. Instead of continuing to subscribe to such metaphysical concerns perpetuated by the naming of a source and a target, I adopt the notions “host language” and “guest language” . . . (. . . radically alter[ing] the relationship between the original and translation) , which should allow me to place more emphasis on the host language than it has heretofore received. (Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity-China, 1900-1937, 27)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"Rhetoric" defined

"Rhetoric" has been defined in many ways, by many people, just in English. Edward Schiappa says Plato may have first coined the originally Greek word. Sara J. Newman says Plato's student, Aristotle, then defines the term in the Rhetoric by "four definitional statements . . . three of which depend on metaphors" and "ambigous metaphors" at that. Here's what else people say "rhetoric" is:

Fendrich R. Clark's collection of

Definitions of Rhetoric

Some Definitions of Rhetoric

noted by
Catherine R. Eskin

Selected Definitions of Rhetoric

of Mareen Daly Goggin

Some Definitions of Rhetoric

compiled by Andrea A. Lunsford

Aristotle's Definition of Rhetoric in the Rhetoric:
The Metaphors and their Message

by Sara J. Newman

Second Thoughts on the Critiques of Big Rhetoric

by Edward Schiappa

What is Rhetoric?
a question of Victor J. Vitanza

feminismS (essence? estrangement? expulsion?)

Intellectuals insist:
"De-scribe what you mean by feminism!"
  1. "Define its essence."
  2. "Differentiate it from, say, traditionalism. Declare its estrangement from so-called masculinism. "
  3. "Do acknowledge the extreme expulsion it expects. Either defend it or deconstruct it."

feminists foster feminisms other-wise:

1. essence? pluralities

Sonja K. Foss, for example, discusses “feminist criticism,” which she explains “has emerged as one method by which scholars engage in research designed to intervene in the ideology of domination” (157). She concedes this is simply “[o]ne common definition of feminism [that most] features the concept of equality, exemplified in definitions such as the belief that women and men should have equal opportunities for self expression” (151). Thus, she names more than a dozen “various kinds of identifications” (152) within the “three waves or stages” (151) of "feminism" [153]). Foss agrees that one may attempt to describe “the essence of feminism,” but she refuses to essentialize the pluralities. Feminisms, for the most part, seem to be involved in “the effort to eliminate relations of domination not just for women but for all people” including “women, African Americans, old people, lesbians, gay men, or others” (153); hence, what is named singularly “feminist criticism is the analysis of rhetoric to discover how the rhetorical construction of gender is used as a means for domination and how that process can be challenged so that all people understand that they have the capacity to claim agency and act in the world as they choose”(157). And, generally, perhaps “the concern of feminist critics is with relationships of domination of all kinds, not simply those based on gender . . . [but also any of many] based on race, class, sexual orientation, or any other dimension of identity” (157). Therefore, for that method of rhetorical criticism concerning “relationships of domination,” Foss explains, there is that “label—feminism.” (See the chapter "Feminist Criticism" in Rhetorical Criticism, 3rd ed, 2004).

2. estrangement? no, and yes

Patricia Bizzell asks:

"Have [Jacqueline Jones] Royster, and other feminist scholars for whom she has now more completely articulated methodologies already in practice, departed radically from the rhetorical tradition?"

So Bizzell answers:

Yes, and no. No, because their work relies upon many of the traditional tools of research in the history of rhetoric. No, because the rhetors they have added to our picture of the history of Western rhetoric seem to me to be working within this tradition and enriching it, rather than consituting utterly separate or parallel rhetorical traditions. But yes, because in order to get at activities of these new rhetors, researchers have had to adopt radically new methods as well, methods which violate some of the most cherished conventions of academic research, most particularly in bringing the person of the researcher, her body, her emotions, and dare one say, her soul, into the work. (Feminist Methods of Research in the History of Rhetoric: What Difference Do They Make? (Rhetoric Society Quarterly 30, Fall 2000: 17)

3. explusion? rather: a sheltering and nurturing in a babel of eroticism, attachment, and empathy

Nancy Mairs writes on the difference between the "fundamental structure of patriarchy" and "women's language":

The difference that emerges here [i.e., in language marked as
feminist] is not the polarity intrinsic in the dominant discourse [i.e., unmarked masculinism], which reduces “woman to man’s opposite, his other, the negative of the positive.” No, this is an absolute and radical alterity that enfolds the other, as in pregnancy a woman’s immune system shuts down in such a way that she shelters and nourishes, rather than rejects and expels, the foreign body within her: “Cells fuse, split, and proliferate; volumes grow, tissues stretch, and body fluids change rhythm, speeding up or slowing down. Within the body, growing as a graft, indomitable, there is an other. And no one is present, within that simultaneously dual and alien space, to signify what is going on.” Feminine discourse is not the language of opposites but a babel of eroticism, attachment, and empathy. (Voice Lessons: On Becoming a (Woman) Writer, 40-42)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

feminism, rhetoric, translation

Women and rhetoric are problems for elitists and misogynists, like Aristotle. Translation is equally problematic, for intellectual purists.

So now, what if we translated Aristotle's Greek
Rhetoric into English feministically? Watch what happens . . .

In the mean time, what do you think of this anti-feminist backdrop?

Aristotle did not need to spend much time on slavery in the Rhetoric because he had justified it in detail in the Politics, the master art in which his rhetoric is a subsidiary . . . . In Aristotle’s system, soul is privileged over body, intelligence over emotion, humans over animals, men over women, and freemen over slaves.
Jasper Neel, Aristotle's Voice: Rhetoric, Theory and Writing in America

But among barbarians no distinction is made between women and slaves, because there is no natural ruler among them: they are a community of slaves, male and female. Wherefore the poets say, "It is meet that Hellenes should rule over barbarians"; as if they thought that the barbarian and the slave were by nature one.
Aristotle, the Politics