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Common English Words in -man

English words ending in -man are given in three columns. All have primary stress on the first syllable, but those in the first two columns have weak, unstressed final syllables (in my speech) with an obscure vowel, a schwa. Those in the second column are distinguished by having an s preceding the -man element. The plural forms of the words in both columns, although spelled with -men, also have an obscure vowel, which for some speakers may be a barred-i in contrast to the schwa of the singular forms, while for other speakers the singular and plural forms may not be distinguished at all in normal rapid speech. (Decreolized standard English in Hawai'i tends to give at least tertiary stress to both -man and -men and treat the words in the first two columns like those in the third.)

The words in the third column have primary stress on the first syllable, and tertiary on the second (pronounced with a low front lax vowel). The plurals are distinguished by a mid front lax vowel in the second syllable, also with tertiary stress.

Thus, a case can be made for the words in the first two columns being formed according to a word formation rule that adds the suffix -man, and for those in the third column being compounds. The identity of the -s in the second column is problematic; a possible plural base is given in italics for a few of the words. Most of the bases in the first two columns are nouns, as are the first elements in the compounds of the third column. Where another part of speech is involved, it is indicated following the word.

PROFESSIONS, ROLES

brakeman V
batsman
boatman
busman
craftsman
business man
cattleman
draftsman
doorman
chairman
groundsman
handy man A
clergyman
helmsman
iceman
congressman
herdsman
leg man
corpsman
linesman
mailman
councilman
marksman
meatman
dairyman
oars(wo)man
medicine man
doorman
outdoorsman
middleman
fireman
sales(wo)man
milkman
first baseman
spokes(wo)man
minute man
fisherman
sports(wo)man
repairman V
gunman
statesman
straight man A
hangman V
trades(wo)man
stunt man
infantryman
yachts(wo)man
weatherman
lawman
woodsman
yard-man
layman
lineman
lumberman
patrolman
penman
policeman
postman
rifleman
seaman
showman
watchman

COHORT, SOLIDARITY CIRCLE, ORIGINS, NATURAL HABITAT*

Chinaman
backwoodsman
cave-man
countryman
clans(wo)man
white man A
Dutchman
kins(wo)man
Englishman
plainsman
Frenchman
townsman
gentleman A
tribesman
Irishman
Scotchman

MISCELLANEOUS

freshman A
-------
family man
bushman
-------
madman A
snow man
superman A

* The terms 'solidarity circle' and 'natural habitat' are from Marchand. [back to top] [back to list of essays]