Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Entry: subaltern (n.)

In context: "The clipboarded woman was a mere subaltern."

Definition: A person or (occas.) thing of inferior rank or status; a subordinate. Now chiefly in critical and cultural theory, esp. post-colonial theory: a member of a marginalized or oppressed group; a person who is not part of the hegemony.

Other: Pretty interesting: Etymology:  < post-classical Latin subalternus (in logic) subordinate (4th cent.), designating a genus which is itself a species of a higher genus (1512 or earlier), designating a species which is also a genus (1523 or earlier), (with reference to rank) subordinate (from 12th cent. in British and continental sources) < classical Latin sub- sub- prefix + alternus altern adj.

Compare Middle French, French subalterne subordinate, lower in a hierarchy (c1430; 1466 as noun), Spanish subalterno (13th cent.), Italian subalterno (late 15th cent.). With use as adjective compare earlier subalternate adj., subalternal adj.

Variation in the position of the main stress has been recorded since at least the 18th cent. The present pattern, of stress normally on the first syllable in British use, and stress normally on the second syllable in U.S. use, is found from at least the late 19th cent.

SNOOT score:  3
Page: 747

Source: Oxford English Dictionary   

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