Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some more lexical fun

If we can describe the feminine of a contraceptor as a contraceptrix, on the analogy of mediator/mediatrix (as in Our Lady’s title Mediatrix of all graces), let’s see what else we can come up with in this fashion.

As it turns out, novus ordo religion provides us with plenty of scope to make new feminine forms of existing ecclesiastical offices and liturgical roles. For instance:

The one who reads the lessons: m. lector, f. lectrix

The personage who leads the singing: m. cantor, f. cantrix

The unconsecrated hands that distribute holy communion: m. extraordinary minister, f. extraordinary ministrix

The ‘presider’: m. presbyter, f. presbytrix (in the case of the stealth priestesses now alarmingly common in some dioceses, or of so-called “Pastoral Associates”, the majority of whom are women).

Although this liturgical role does not exist in Ireland, Melancholicus’ recent foray into the God-forsaken wilderness that is the archdiocese of Seattle has introduced him to the phenomenon of the usher. Now what would the feminine version of this be? As it does not end in -tor it could hardly have a -trix ending. I suppose something as pedestrian as usheress or usherette would have to serve instead. I’m sure at least one of those must be a real word.

The feminine version of an altar server is of course a serviette or, as Melancholicus was once amused to learn, a girl altar boy.

Any more suggestions?

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