‘You had some kind of oomph, sister,’ says a young actor to an actress in Bethel Merriday, by Sinclair Lewis. ‘Whadya mean “sister”? I never saw you before,’ is the reply. This friendly use of ‘sister’, however, was established in the USA by the middle of the nineteenth century and continues today. British use of the term was at one time slightly different, if we are to believe Oscar Wilde. In The Importance of Being Earnest Jack tells Algernon: ‘Cecily and Gwendolen are perfectly certain to be extremely great friends. I’ll bet you anything you like that half an hour after they have met, they will be calling each other sister.’ Algernon replies: ‘Women only do that when they have called each other a lot of other things first’ Later in the play, after a few misunderstandings have been cleared away, Gwendolen does indeed say to Cecily: ‘You will call me sister, will you not?’ In modern times girls still have friends who are like sisters to them, but they are less likely to address them as such. As for the male use to an unknown girl, this remains mainly an American habit. Used in Britain it probably reflects conscious imitation of American ways. ‘Sister’ was formerly used within middleclass families, along with other terms of relationship such as ‘husband’, ‘wife’, ‘brother’. In the opening scene of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair the Misses Pinkerton address one another as ‘sister’.
   In Shakespeare it is frequently used, sometimes as ‘sweet sister’, ‘young sister’, ‘fair sister’, ‘good sister’, ‘my dearest sister’, etc. The Weird Sisters, in Macbeth, use ‘sister’ to one another. The word could also be followed by the first name. In The Taming of the Shrew Bianca, much abused by Katherina, constantly reminds her of their sisterly relationship by the vocatives she uses, including ‘sister Kate’.
   Family use of ‘sister’ from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries would have extended to sisters-in-law, step-sisters, and half-sisters. The Oxford English Dictionary even provides some evidence that it could have been used to the mother-in-law of one’s daughter. In modern use the short form ‘sis’ is far more likely to be used to a sister than the full form, though the latter may be used ironically. ‘Don’t forget you’re my younger brother,’ says a character in Mariana, by Monica Dickens. ‘Well, I feel old today, sister,’ is the reply.
   In professional use, ‘sister’ has been a title for a nurse in charge of a ward since the late nineteenth century. Use of the term may well have derived from the nuns who were usually the nurses in former times. The religious use of ‘sister’ goes back to at least the tenth century. By the fifteenth century ‘sister’, or ‘sister’ + first name, was being used to address not only nuns, but any female member of a Christian congregation.
   In modern times ‘sister’ has come to be seen as a term suitable for use to any woman who has a clearly identified common interest with the speaker. It is thus used in trade union circles at formal meetings. It is likely to be used by feminists, or by black American girls addressing one another in certain circumstances. In The Liberation of Lord Byron Jones, by Jesse Hill Ford, occurs the following: His widow, Miss Emma, she promised me last night that she would henceforth be a witness for Islam. She asks now to be known as Emma X. She tells me that she has no wish for anything that is the white man’s, but prefers to be a witness for the Muslim cause and a black woman of the nation of Islam. Call her Sister Emma X.
   Sub-standard pronunciation of sister is occasionally indicated in variant spellings. Truman Capote, in his short story The Headless Hawk, has: ‘A cab driver hollered: “Fa crissake, sistuh, get the lead outa yuh pants!”’

A dictionary of epithets and terms of address . . 2015.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать реферат

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sister — Студийный альбом …   Википедия

  • Sister — Sis ter, n. [OE. sister, fr. Icel. systir; also suster, from AS. sweostor, sweoster, swuster, akin to OFries. sweester, suster, LG. s[ u]ster, suster, D. zuster, OS. & OHG. swestar, G. schwester, Icel. systir, Sw. syster, Dan. s[ o]ster, Goth.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sister Fa — beim Würzburger Hafensommer am 31. Juli 2010 Sister Fa, eigentlich Fatou Mandiang Diatta, (* 1982 in Dakar, Senegal) ist eine senegalesische Rapperin und Aktivistin gegen die Genitalverstümmelung in Afrika. Biografie Sister Fa produzierte ihr… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • sister — [sis′tər] n. [ME < ON systir (akin to OE sweoster > dial. suster), akin to Ger schwester < IE * swesor , sister (> Sans svasar, L soror, OIr siur) < * sewe , (one s) own, refl. pron. (see SUICIDE) + * sor , woman: hence, lit.,… …   English World dictionary

  • sister — UK US /ˈsɪstər/ adjective [before noun] ► used to describe one of the organizations or companies in a pair or group of similar organizations when referring to it in relation to the others: »The competition is being run in conjunction with our… …   Financial and business terms

  • sister — ► NOUN 1) a woman or girl in relation to other children of her parents. 2) a female friend or associate. 3) (before another noun ) denoting an organization or a place which bears a relationship to another of common origin or allegiance. 4) (often …   English terms dictionary

  • Sister' s — (Темара,Марокко) Категория отеля: 2 звездочный отель Адрес: Plage Des Sables D or, 12040 Темара …   Каталог отелей

  • Sister — Sis ter, v. t. To be sister to; to resemble closely. [Obs.] Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sister — [n] female sibling blood sister, kin, kinsperson, relation, relative, twin; concepts 414,415 …   New thesaurus

  • Sister — Sister, 1) (fr. Cistre), ein in Spielart u. Bau der Guitarre (s.d.) ähnliches Instrument, welches mit 7 Drahtsaiten, wovon die 3 tiefsten übersponnen sind, bezogen wird, welche in die Töne Gefgcēḡ gestimmt werden; 2) Getreidemaß in den… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • sister — O.E. sweostor, swuster, or a Scandinavian cognate (Cf. O.N. systir, Swed. syster, Dan. sèster), in either case from P.Gmc. *swestr (Cf. O.S. swestar, O.Fris. swester, M.Du. suster, Du. zuster, O.H.G. swester, Ger. Schwester, Goth. swistar), from… …   Etymology dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”