1. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    14,979
    Likes Received:
    12,493

    The word 'master' and alternatives

    Discussion in 'Research' started by ChickenFreak, Jan 4, 2019.

    So, I'm writing fantasy. One of my cultures most definitely uses the word 'master', in the sense of one's employer. If you're a footman or a gardener or cook or whatever who works for a man, and you live in that man's house and get wages from him and take orders from him, he's your 'master'. And you owe him a fairly high level of loyalty and obedience.

    I have another culture where the tie between employee and employer is less firm--you obey your employer's orders enough to get them to pay you, and they pay you. And if someone offers to pay you more, you work for them instead, or you may work for several people. And while the servants in the first culture would never be seen badmouthing their master in public, the employees in the second culture absolutely would.

    I need a word for the employer in the second culture. 'Employer' is too formal. 'Boss' apparently is just short of old enough, but to me it doesn't feel old enough. If I have to explain its origin (apparently from the Dutch, and grabbed because Americans didn't like the word 'master') that leads to a clear response of, "Um...but the Dutch don't exist in your fantasy world, right? Or the Americans?"

    So, any suggestions?
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    14,979
    Likes Received:
    12,493
    And since I created this in part to stop hijacking the three sentences thread:

    I offered the Kindle Preview of Johnny Tremain, which is set in Boston in 1773.

    Again, you seem set on the idea that 'master' has always been exclusively used for a slave relationship. You are incorrect.
     
  3. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Lively Fred

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2016
    Messages:
    453
    Likes Received:
    324
    Location:
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow
    Hm. There's the word 'liege' although that has a similar context to 'master' to me, a little more subservient than I think you're wanting? Since my brain wants to go Middle-Ages, 'Lord' is also along those lines.
     
    ChickenFreak likes this.
  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    14,979
    Likes Received:
    12,493
    Thanks! Yes, those feel like they're rolling toward the more subservient, rather than less subservient, end of the scale. Though they do give me more words to play with.
     
  5. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Lively Fred

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2016
    Messages:
    453
    Likes Received:
    324
    Location:
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow
    Perhaps 'liege' could be your more subservient culture and 'master' your less so?
     
    ChickenFreak likes this.
  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    14,979
    Likes Received:
    12,493
    Oh, that's an interesting concept...I'd have to scrape the subservience off of the word 'master', but I think that could be done.
     
    MusingWordsmith likes this.
  7. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2017
    Messages:
    452
    Likes Received:
    724
    Patron would be my choice.

    It makes me think of Mozart. His boss of the moment would be his patron. He'd write whatever and then find a new patron for the next work. Though he would stick around if he wasn't annoyed (or had spent everything).
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
    T_L_K, Foxxx, Shenanigator and 2 others like this.
  8. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    5,763
    Likes Received:
    7,530
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    In the original dispute the 'reader' reacted quite severely to the usage of 'master' and came back, or quipped maybe with a parody written in the style of 'Tom & Jerry Massa...' all that 'crap' you might say. It's almost a sensitivity reader area [no joke]...

    ...but I've worked in palaces and you say all these 'words' - they're just formal address, like military. For your list - chief, oui chef.

    Regardless, I thought the idea was that we/you/I create our worlds and the reader goes along, or not. Surely 'master' is an interesting word that provides a sense of relationship, like Casterbridge...even up to present day & like your future setting. Almost worth a 'draft play,' Captain.
     
    ChickenFreak likes this.
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    14,979
    Likes Received:
    12,493
    Hm. Adding that to the list. That does have a good suggestion of independence.
     
    Shenanigator likes this.
  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    14,979
    Likes Received:
    12,493
    I'd like to choose words that make it as easy as possible for the reader to go along. :) I could use 'master' in both cultures and just let it mean different things, but I like the grumble of "Master? No. He's my (noun)."

    Well, and there is also that sense of relationship--an employer that provides food and lodging and tells you what to wear and owns every minute of your days and chooses precisely when you get time off, if any, is different from one that pays you to do specific tasks on a sort of contract basis.
     
  11. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    5,763
    Likes Received:
    7,530
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    ...Superintendent.

    First officer

    Executive officer 'EO' > Higher Executive Officer > Senior Executive Officer

    Thinking of David Koresh type tags
     
    ChickenFreak likes this.
  12. BayView

    BayView Not even a little tender Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,797
    Likes Received:
    11,589
    There's some use of 'master' in the Salem documents - like http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/n13.html and http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/n15.html.

    Sometimes it seems to be referring to the devil, like http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/n22.html

    And sometimes it seems to be used as a title (like, instead of Mister), like http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/n32.html


    In terms of alternatives for a fictional world... I guess it would depend on the relationship. Maybe chief or director or patron or skipper... but I'd be tempted to just go with employer, personally.
     
    ChickenFreak and matwoolf like this.
  13. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2016
    Messages:
    1,070
    Likes Received:
    946
    Man of the house.
    Lady of the house.

    Sorry, but I don't think there's a nice word for Master.
     
    Rosacrvx likes this.
  14. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    407
    Likes Received:
    378
    Location:
    Seattle
    If the two cultures are related and have a common language and history, then maybe the terms could be related? For example, one could be a master, and the other could be something like paymaster or wagemaster.
     
    ChickenFreak likes this.
  15. Nariac

    Nariac Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2018
    Messages:
    534
    Likes Received:
    761
    Location:
    England
    Benefactor
     
    ChickenFreak likes this.
  16. Drake GreenWood

    Drake GreenWood Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2018
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Wilds of Missouri
    In the Same thread I offered the, Statement that Master at the Time covered, Apprentices, Bond Servants, and Slaves.

    The fact is in my Campaigns.. Thralls, Slaves, Serfs, Bond Servants, and Apprentices all are liable to call some master.

    The fact that The Youth version of Mister.. Is Master.
    Master comes in all shapes and sizes.

    A Guild Master, and Master Craftsman of a Guild are two different things.
    But Both called Master.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
    ChickenFreak and matwoolf like this.
  17. Maggie May

    Maggie May Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2018
    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    74
    Master and Mistress was used as to someone you respected or worked for. They now have more than one meaning, it is up to the writer in how they use the language to infer the meaning of the word. Since you are writing Fantasy, you can create your own meaning behind a word. I would not want to make a huge stretch in the meaning for example if the temperature is hot, don't call it cold. Master, Mister, Sir, Mistress, Ma'm, Mrs/Miss/Ms..... it's how you use it that will connect the meaning. Heck you could make up a word!
     
  18. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    14,979
    Likes Received:
    12,493
    It doesn't need to be a slave doing the talking.

    Have you heard of the term 'apprentice'? Heard of its association with the word 'master'?
     
    matwoolf likes this.
  19. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    11,870
    Likes Received:
    13,169
    Location:
    Scotland
    What about something like 'patron?'

    Edited: just read the whole thread and see that @Seven Crowns already suggested it.

    Obviously no word in the English language is an exact synonym for another one, so finding another word for 'employer' that implies somebody who pays a person to work for them is kinda hard, unless you want to go the slang route ...like boss, etc.

    Of course you could just make up a word as well, if it's Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

    .....

    If you want to have some fun (I just did) go to Google Translate, put 'employer' into the search and then check what the word for employer is in umpteen languages. In Esperanto, for example it's Mastrino. There are a few more that might be very usable.

    Quite a number of them seem to be a variant on Workgiver
    Also Empresari (Catalan)
    Patronu (Corsica)
    Dico - Latin
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
    ChickenFreak and Shenanigator like this.
  20. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    4,287
    Likes Received:
    6,981
    I like "patron".

    Depending on the sound and formality of the prose, "buyer" is another possibility and clearly expresses the business relationship between the two. That's what a lot of independent contractors in various industries call the people who hire them, both verbally and in contract language.

    Or perhaps you could invent a word from "buyer" or one of its synonyms, or use the Latin word? (According to Word Hippo emptor = purchaser/customer conparator = buyer/dealer.)
     
    T_L_K and ChickenFreak like this.
  21. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2016
    Messages:
    1,070
    Likes Received:
    946
    The problem I have with patron is that it can mean something else, and shouldn't be confused with the master of a house, or castle, or whatever.

    This is how I used "patron"...

    “Valerie wouldn’t tell me plainly. She’s much too clever for that. What she did say is that a band of renegade ladies have enlisted her to do their bidding and spy on the most powerful patrons of the court. I hadn’t believed her, not really, that she had the queen’s ear and was sent on secret affairs. I didn’t care if the stories she told me were true or not. It was enough that she took an interest in me and made me feel important. But it seems those stories are real and now she wants me out of the way. So here I am, on a fool’s errand while she lives a life of murderous intrigue and derring-do. I wish to be by her side, fighting for what’s right. It’s not fair being our age, is it? We miss out on everything.”
     
    jannert likes this.
  22. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    5,763
    Likes Received:
    7,530
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    I’m getting a very ‘hard’ interpretation of the word when I’ve read so many 18c/19c master & boy stories where the sense is more tender.. :/
     
  23. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2016
    Messages:
    1,945
    Likes Received:
    1,696
    Location:
    United States
    Just like "Patron" could be confused with "patrons" of a club or court, gay can be confused with gays, a bat can be confused with the nocturnal flying ones... The problem can easily be solved by a short explanation or context.

    My vote goes to Patron.
     
    Seven Crowns likes this.
  24. Hammer

    Hammer Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2018
    Messages:
    623
    Likes Received:
    1,258
    Location:
    UK
    Hi @ChickenFreak

    Not sure whether this helps but I was an independend contractor in the world of IT for twenty years and the relationship was much as you describe with "you obey your employer's orders enough to get them to pay you, and they pay you. And if someone offers to pay you more, you work for them instead, or you may work for several people"

    I just called them clients.
     
    ChickenFreak likes this.
  25. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    11,870
    Likes Received:
    13,169
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yeah, that's the trouble with substituting an in-use English word. It really won't have an exact synonym.

    I'd actually be in favour of 'borrowing' a foreign word or ...hey, why not ...making one up. I found that several of the languages I checked (especially the Dutch/Germanic/Nordic ones) use some form of Work-Giver to mean Employer. It's an angle that might convey the right notion.

    In English, a patron is usually somebody who supports an person's work (via financial backing for a project and/or personal recommendations) but a patron doesn't pay the artist/worker a salary.

    Mind you, several of the languages I checked DO use a form of 'patron' to mean employer. So there we go, eh?
     

Share This Page