I've had a long week, I'm quite tired and I needed some lunch so went out for a walk. However, as I often find with tiredness, my brain doesn't work like it normally does and sometimes moments of clarity springing from rambling thoughts surprise me.
I was thinking about the way people describe their partners. Often people just use the word partner "my partner" maybe we use the term "my husband" or "my wife". That got me thinking. especially after reading Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women. And it made me question the use of the term "my wife" and "my husband" as there's a degree of ownership that is present here, where it is absent in "my partner".
The etymology of the word husband turns out to be quite interesting:
Old English husbonda "male head of a household, master of a house, householder," probably from Old Norse husbondi "master of the house," literally "house-dweller," from hus "house" (see house (n.)) + bondi "householder, dweller, freeholder, peasant," from buandi, present participle of bua "to dwell" (from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow," and compare bond (adj.)).
Slang shortening hubby is attested by 1680s. Beginning late 13c. it replaced Old English wer as "married man (in relation to his wife)" and became the companion word of wife, a sad loss for English poetry. Old English wer, in the broadest sense "man, male person" (from PIE root *wi-ro- "man"), is preserved in werewolf.
And of course the use of the word husbandry is slightly different:
c. 1300, "management of a household;" late 14c. as "farm management;" from husband (n.) in a now-obsolete sense of "peasant farmer" (early 13c.) + -ery.
I'm going to leave the rather worrying "husband as master" theme there hanging for you to contemplate and move on...
Language changes it's meaning over time - hence the need for etymology - and it also influences the culture within society. It doesn't take much looking around the web to find statements like the following:
language is also used to transmit values, laws, and cultural norms, including taboos. Language, since it expresses and reinforces culture, influences the personal identity of those living within the culture and creates boundaries of behaviour.
So language is both a constraint on culture and changed by culture.....
"In complex adaptive systems the constraints are not external to the system but are a dynamic changing part of the system and we can't treat them as independent from the system." I think Abraham Lincoln said that. ‘I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours,’ I said that. (well Mr Zimmerman did to be fair to him)