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Suffrage

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Suffrage

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:41 pm

• suffrage •


Pronunciation: sêf-rij • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The right to vote. 2. A vote cast in deciding an issue. 3. A short, intercessory prayer on behalf of souls departed.

Notes: This word entered English in the 14th century meaning "a short prayer of intercession", but by the 16th century it was used to refer to voting in the British parliament. The adjective is suffragial, but the more interesting term is suffragette, the name given to women at the beginning of the 20th century who demonstrated for the woman's right to vote, for women's suffrage, which women in the US suffered without until 1920.

In Play: Although the word was more closely associated with the right of women to vote in the last century, it refers to anyone's right to vote, "We would probably elect a better government if we extended suffrage to elementary school children." But don't forget that it also refers to a prayer on behalf of a soul to be promoted to a higher office, "Let's all offer suffrages for Larry to be promoted to some position far from this office."

Word History: Suffrage goes back to Latin suffragare "to vote". The root of this word comes from the same source as English break. The English word break (= German brechen) comes from the Proto-Indo-European root, bhreg-. The initial [bh] became [b] in English and the [g] became [k], both by regular historical change. The [bh] in Latin, however, standing at the beginning of a word as it does here, became [f], so the Latin word for "break" is frangere, past participle fractus, the origin of our word fracture. With the prefix sub- "under" (the final [b] assimilating to the following [f]), this stem gave Latin suffragari "to vote." Why the connection between "break" and "vote"? The guess is that the early Romans used broken shards of pottery for casting votes. (We all owe a unanimous vote of gratitude to Ruth Baldwin for suggesting we look into the odd connotations of today's word.)
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Re: Suffrage

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:35 pm

"We would probably elect a better government if we extended suffrage to elementary school children."

and dogs and cats.
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Re: Suffrage

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Dec 02, 2013 2:23 pm

Dogs are trustworthy. Cats are too enigmatic.
pl
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Re: Suffrage

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:41 pm

Ok, out with cats, me and my dog would not miss any of
them.
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Re: Suffrage

Postby gailr » Tue Dec 03, 2013 9:02 pm

I brought your post to the attention of Dom thee Danger Catte, Luke. He does not approve...
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Re: Suffrage

Postby MTC » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:31 am

Leaving the sensitive issue of "cat outs" behind, if suffrage is a short intercessory prayer, would a suffragette be an even shorter, perhaps even mini, prayer?
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Re: Suffrage

Postby gailr » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:47 am

^ In the fine tradition of baguettes being mini bags, yes. :wink:
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Re: Suffrage

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:52 pm

gailr wrote:I brought your post to the attention of Dom thee Danger Catte, Luke. He does not approve...



There is always someone profiling.
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Re: Suffrage

Postby Slava » Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:32 pm

What I like is that though there is no connection, if you suffer someone to vote, you grant them suffrage.
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Re: Suffrage

Postby MTC » Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:03 pm

Here's a post from another site which answers the question of another poster about whether there is any connection between "suffer" and "suffrage:"

There is, but it's remote. In much older English (the 1600s), to suffer someone to do something is to allow him to do it, to not hinder him. (You can see how my suffering someone to do something that I would normally prohibit can lead to my suffering in the modern sense.) So in the late 1800s, when the issue of allowing women to vote came to a head in this country (and also in England, I believe, at about the same time), the issue came to be called "women's suffrage". Nowadays if we talk about "suffrage" that's what we mean.

Political controversy often changes the meaning of words in that way. "Abortion" used to mean cutting something short, stopping it before it reached completion; nowadays it's almost impossible to use the word in a general sense, because it's used almost exclusively about aborting pregnancies. The same with "pollution", "adultery", "exploitation" and a number of other words. Alas.

http://www.waywordradio.org/discussion/topics/suffrage/
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Re: Suffrage

Postby Slava » Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:26 pm

MTC, you stopped reading too soon. Just three posts later, the author of what you quoted wrote this:
Really?! I thought about looking it up before posting my reply, but it was just so obvious. Ok, now let's see what the OED says… Well, that's just weird: I wasn't off, I was just flat wrong.

suffer: early 13c., "to be made to undergo, endure" (pain, death, punishment, judgment, grief), from Anglo-Fr. suffrir, from O.Fr. sufrir, from V.L. *sufferire, variant of L. sufferre "to bear, undergo, endure, carry or put under," from sub "up, under" (see sub-) + ferre "to carry" (see infer). Replaced O.E. þolian, þrowian. Meaning "to meekly submit to hardship" is from late 13c. That of "to undergo" (distress, suffering, etc.) is mid-14c. Meaning "to tolerate, allow" something to occur or continue is recorded from mid-13c. Related: Suffered; suffering.

suffrage: late 14c., "prayers or pleas on behalf of another," from O.Fr. suffrage (13c.), from M.L. suffragium, from L. suffragium "support, vote, right of voting," from suffragari "lend support, vote for someone," from sub "under" (see sub-) + fragor "crash, din, shouts (as of approval)," related to frangere "to break" (see fraction). The meaning "right to vote" is first found in the U.S. Constitution, 1787.

So they look alike, and my etymology was reasonable, explanatory, obvious, clear, perhaps even witty. It had, in fact (as a favorite author once wrote in another subject) every amiable quality except that of being true.

Well, nuts. But I do love surprises of that sort. Who'd'a thunk it?
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Re: Suffrage

Postby MTC » Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:00 pm

I think the poster threw in the towel a little too soon on the connection between "suffrage" and "suffer." There is no dispute the words have different origins, but when the drafters of the US Constitution first employed the word "suffrage" to mean the right to vote, they could not have had the sense of "suffer" as "permit" far from mind. You referred to this sense of "suffer" yourself when you said "if you suffer someone to vote, you grant them suffrage." Additionally, "suffrage" has taken on the connotation of suffering through the struggles of the Womens' Movement. See the article below:

WHY IS IT CALLED "SUFFRAGE?"

A vote is just a vote, but suffrage is a vote with high purpose. Thus it is no surprise that the high-purposed radical movement to extend the vote to women adopted the term suffrage to sum up its goal. Suffrage was already enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, where it applies to a right so fundamental it cannot be amended away. According to Article 5, the Constitution can be amended with approval of the legislatures of three-fourths of the states, except that "no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate."

This was the first use of suffrage to mean, "voting as a right rather than a privilege." In the earlier sense of "privilege," suffrage had been in the English language since the Middle Ages. Suffrages originally were prayers. Then the meaning was extended to requests for assistance, then to assistance itself, then the assistance provided by a supporting vote, and finally the vote itself. So it stood when in 1787 the Constitution used suffrage to mean "an inalienable right to vote."

And the right to vote, not merely the condescending permission to do so, was what advocated of women's equality sought. Hence they used suffrage, either in the phrase female suffrage or simply by itself, with the understanding that suffrage referred to the vote for the half of the adult population that had been excluded. By the early 1840's there was a Suffrage Party with this as their mission.

Even beyond its legal meaning, suffrage had connotations that helped the cause move forward. The word often evokes the dual meanings of suffer: "to allow," but also "to endure pain and hardship," here for the particular sake of achieving a goal. The goal of the suffrage movement was accomplished in 1920.

The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." With that amendment, the word suffrage was retired too. Since then, campaigns to extend the vote have simply called for "voting rights."

It took years of great effort--from well before the first National Woman Suffrage Association Convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1869 until the passage of the amendment in 1920. Women rallied, wrote letters, picketed and were jailed for the cause. The history of women in our country is one of strength, foresight and perseverance. No wonder the entire month of March is celebrated as Women's History Month.

(http://www.lwvmp.org/newsletter/v200503why.html)
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