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Koh Elaine
Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2018 7:55:32 PM
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Where I live, the word "fellow" is derogatory. You cannot, for example, say "This fellow is clever."

Do some native speakers consider this word derogatory?

Thanks.
palapaguy
Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2018 9:57:59 PM

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Koh Elaine wrote:
Where I live, the word "fellow" is derogatory. You cannot, for example, say "This fellow is clever."

Do some native speakers consider this word derogatory?

Thanks.

No, not in my experience. In fact, "fellow" is somewhat warm and "chummy."
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Monday, November 12, 2018 5:00:56 AM

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I don't find the word fellow derogatory or warm by itself it's a matter of context.

If a friend uses it as part of a greeting, it's unlikely they would it's a bit old fashioned, then it's is a warm word.

However in some older fiction you may read someone using it in the clichéd " I say you there fellow" manner, rude and abrupt of someone that considers themselves superior to the person they are addressing then it's derogatory.

However the related word fellowship is a word that suggests friendly association or shared interests.
Romany
Posted: Monday, November 12, 2018 12:13:33 PM
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It certainly was used in Colonial times in a rather derogatory way.

But nowadays native English speakers use it with a hyphen; and not actually seriously. "I'm off with my fellow-dancers to take the world by storm." "He's my fellow-conspirator in planning the surprise party." "She was my fellow-sufferer at school." Thus it is not gendered any longer, and the reason it is used is to indicate a companion/s in some activity.
thar
Posted: Monday, November 12, 2018 1:29:01 PM

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I never quite understood the code word 'fellow traveller'. I guess it has died off now, but I read and heard it in old films and books and always found it quite intriguing and exotic.
(I know, sad or what!)
As far as I could decode it, it only meant a [secret] member of the Communist Party - or at least a sympathiser. I don't know if it ever had a more general meaning, but to me it got permanently linked to that meaning. So I can't take it seriously when it means people stuck on a train with you. It just brings on the image of secret nods and furtive meetings.
NKM
Posted: Monday, November 12, 2018 2:01:32 PM

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More generally (and, I think, originally) a "fellow traveler" was someone who was "along for the ride" — that is, someone whose presence was not vital or particularly important to the mission at hand. In Roman times, a Legion might be accompanied by its fellow travelers: the consorts or mistresses of the officers, along with any civilian craftsmen who supported them. Historians sometimes refer to the rats that brought the plague to European shores as "fellow travelers" aboard the arriving cargo ships. (That, I suspect, is the background for the more recent "Communist sympathizers" analogy.)

Nowadays, of course, "my fellow citizens" simply means "those who, like me, are citizens of my country."

Elorac
Posted: Monday, November 12, 2018 5:42:38 PM
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For he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow....

And so say all of us!

I've heard this sung loads of times and usually to celebrate something.


So not derogatory to me.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 2:21:00 AM

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Similarly, I've never heard it derogatorily.

I know, in the past, "fellow traveller" was a communist - I always took it as simply someone who, like the speaker/writer was on the road towards a "new world" - a comrade.

Other than that I've only known it as a word for 'a man' or as a modifier as a sort of 'translation from Old Latin' of 'comrade' or 'someone who shares the same activities', 'soldier on the same campaign'. Fellow-worker, fellow-administrator.

Then of course there's "Fellow of the Royal Society" and so on - it's a rank above mere 'Member' of an Academy or College.

And there's Fellowship of the Ring - they were Fellow Travellers, truly.
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 5:31:59 AM
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Well bless my soul! I had absolutely no inkling that "fellow-traveller" could be translated to indicate a person's political affiliations!!

As a life-long traveller anyone met along the way is a fellow-traveller.It's the only context I (and no doubt some of my fellow-travellers) have ever heard used.

But then again, here in the UK (or at least my part of it) even the word "traveller" has a completely different meaning and refers to Gypsies.

I wonder if the convention "fellow-traveller = Communist" is a First World meaning? Only because, it being such a common phrase among those who travel - to explore, to work, to sight-see - I would have thought that someone, somewhere, in the hundreds of instances I've met "fellow-travellers", would have flagged the political connection?

Anyway - once again I've learnt something new from you guys which I'll keep in mind from now on. Thank you.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 6:21:22 AM

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Hi Romany.

Perhaps we need Y111 or maybe Helene for experienced views on how it was used in the past.
I have a feeling that "fellow-traveller" is very close to a translation of товарищ - "Tovarish". There are very similar words in Romanian and Polish, according to my lodger from Sophia.

On "travellers".
As far as I know, there are different groups of travellers - some of whom still use the old caravans.
There are the Romani - actual descendants of the Northern Indian nomadic tribes who immigrated a few hundred years ago (getting on for a thousand now). I think some of them now work as travelling tree-surgeons but the traditional crafts were fortunes, good-luck charms and so on.
There are the (mainly Irish) Tinkers - they used to mend pots and pans and sharpen knives and scissors. I believe now they mainly collect, sort and sell scrap metal.
Then there are the others. Old Hippies (New Age Travellers), old Hell's Angels - anyone of no fixed abode who lives "off the grid" on the road in caravans or modified mini-buses. Some doing odd jobs, a few (but not many, really) completely criminal.

I think that 'traveller' or 'the Travelling People' was originally mainly used for tinkers - but the usage spread to cover the whole class when 'Gypsy' became considered derogatory (it didn't used to be, it was just a word like "Yorkshireman".)
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 6:46:06 AM
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Yes, it was rather a shock when I got back to UK to find out that the word Gypsy now just refers to petty criminals who live in trailers!

My own Romany Grandfather was what people now would call an "animal whisperer" (as was my mother). He also "physicked" animals. Lord Lonsdale was his "patron" and he bred (my grandfather did)all the hounds and horses for what was once the leading Hunt pack in England. Alongside my Great grandmother he also ran one of the greatest and well-known (even by Dickens) Coaching-houses outside of London. When he dropped dead (inquest showed he had been walking round with a broken neck for 3 days!) the whole town closed down for the funeral.

It kinda makes me sad for my kids' sakes: their legendary great grandfather - a rip-roaring, respected figure of his time - is reduced, by modern language, into an unwashed, criminal lout living in a wooden caravan and selling clothes-pegs!
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 7:12:49 AM

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Another group of travellers in the UK are show people, those who are part of the circus and fairgrounds that travel around the country.

There are several families that have winter quarters near us, and many Romany as well I know they don't like comparison with Irish Tinkers.
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 7:35:58 AM
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Sarries -

Well yes - The Rom have no connection with the Irish: they have a culture, history and conventions of their own as well as an hierarchical structure within that culture. Or at least they DID have. My mother would tell me stories, legends, "histories" as a child; I wish I had retained a lot more information. But hey, when you're a kid there is soooo much to learn about you don't realise what is dross and what is worth keeping, do you?
Y111
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 10:35:45 AM
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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
I have a feeling that "fellow-traveller" is very close to a translation of товарищ - "Tovarish".

No, the meaning of tovarish is more generic, so it can be a translation for fellow, not fellow-something.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 10:45:00 AM

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Thanks!
I always saw it translated as 'comrade' - which actually means an associate - someone who shares in one's activities, occupation or political and fraternal groups.

< Middle French camarade < Sp camarada group of soldiers billeted together]

Comrades are more than friends -
and friends are more than 'chaps', 'fellows', 'people'.

Obviously the translations have never been exact.

Y111
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 11:36:38 AM
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Yes, it can be comrade. It is used in the Russian translation of comrade-in-arms, for example. It can also be used in "comrade-in-work", "comrade-in-(political)party", or "comrade-in-games" for children. But now tovarish is rather old fashioned.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 12:01:21 PM

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I see - thanks.
The Russian "comrade-in-work" would sort-of translate as "fellow-worker"
- and "товарищ", Tovarish alone, should be more like "a fellow", "chap", "guy".

"Comrade" (and "fellow" as an individual noun) became 'a bit old fashioned' in common English a while ago, too.
"Feller" occurs in some dialects meaning 'boyfriend'.
Y111
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 1:17:29 PM
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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
- and "товарищ", Tovarish alone, should be more like "a fellow", "chap", "guy".

Chap and guy? I don't think so. If in "Who is that guy?" you replace "guy" with "tovarish", it will sound formal and official, with the meaning that it acquired in the USSR. Like in "tovarish Lenin". Something like "Who is that citizen?"

Apart from that Soviet era meaning, tovarish works similarly to "friend", and actually means something close to it in "my tovarish" and "good tovarish". That is, it means a relation. Unlike chap and guy (as far as I know, of course).
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 1:37:09 PM

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No - you are right.
You know (much better than I do) how it's used (historically and in the present).

In English, 'fellow' has been devalued a bit, and means virtually the same as 'chap' and 'guy' now.

RuthP
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 6:16:03 PM

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OK, my AE two bits.

"Who's that fellow over there."
In an informal setting, one would be more apt to use "that guy" and neither would be used for women. In a slightly more formal setting, "fellow" might be used, though "man" is probably more common and, again, "fellow" is not used for females.

Most uses now are either idiomatic or professional:

Idiomatic: "My fellow sufferers" "My fellow students" or the famous "My fellow Americans"

Professional: It can be used as a title as in "A Fellow ("Fellow" as a title) of the ACS"
"Fellow" may also refer to an established doctor, who has left practice to pursue further research or clinical work in a "fellowship" (which is a formal position description: one applies for and is accepted to--or not--a fellowship) with and acknowledged expert in the specialty. The Medical Surgical Director (title) of my organization usually has both a research and a clinical fellow (two different people) during the course of a year. Some fellowships last more than one year. While one is in a fellowship, one is a Fellow (title).


And, just as an observation, when one repeats a word too many times it starts to look stupid and wrong.
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