2013/1/15 Roman Rausch <[log in to unmask]>:
>>Interesting! That's the case of Esperanto with its feminine "-in-"
>>that sounds as a type of diminutive. I always thought that this kind
>>of thing could irritate feminists, so I have a tendency to move from
>>"i" towards "e".
> Well, one could claim that the idea behind it is that men are bulky and muscular; while women are lean and slender.

This reminds me that there are some claims that men prefer blondes
because their light hairs make them look more like children (that have
lighter hair), then arousing paternal instinct that make men want to
protect them.

>>But I have seen that there are a lot of words for
>>"woman" with "o" and "u" as well ("donna", "onna", "nu", "mujer",
>>etc.), and that's why I opened this topic.
> I think one also has to consider the relative contrast within a single language, for example J. _onna_ 'woman' and _otoko_ 'man' may suggest an _n_ vs. _t/k_ contrast, as the vowels are otherwise very similar. But one might as well associate _t_ with female (as in Semitic), if one contrasts it in a different way, say _*okat_ 'woman', _*okor_ 'man'.


Actually, it feels intuitive to contrast "smooth" sounds for feminine
and "harsh" sounds for masculine. Maybe this is behind names like
"orc" for phantasy beings apparently full of testosterone and "elf"
for gentle beings that appreciate fine art.

And maybe Italian "donna" is the feminine of "don"... Let's check...
Hmmm... Wiktionary shows another explanation:

dal latino volgare dŏmna che deriva dal latino dŏmĭna ossia "signora,
padrona" della domus, ovvero della "casa"