The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0296  Thursday, 31 January 2002

From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 10:32:10 -0000
Subject: 13.0245 Re: Distinctions
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0245 Re: Distinctions

About Richard Madox's remark that he saw "a scurvie play set out al by
one virgin" who "proved a fyemarten without voice, so that we stayed not
the matter" I asked:

> Anybody know what a "fyemarten" is?

Clifford Stetner suggested,

> OED gives fir marten (or pine marten) for the species M. martes.
> Fiemarten seems vaguely possible as a neologism for a chattering pollcat
> that goes around (on stage?) fying everybody (see OED's fyer), but it
> looks to me like the OED's freemartin (dial. from Yorks. southward):
> spayed heifer, with the compositor perhaps misreading r as y. However, I
> don't think this gets you any closer to the actor's gender.

R Lamb (off-list) suggested,

> Might it be an error for 'freemartin'?  I've heard a farmer use the
> word to describe a ewe which sometimes behaved like a male,
> mounting other ewes. Perhaps a hermaphrodite, or creature of
> indeterminate sex?

Robin Hamilton (off-list) also wrote:

> Just a guess -- freemartin?
> OED2 avers:
> A hermaphrodite or imperfect female of the ox kind

So, 'freemartin' seems appropriate. But does it make the actor a woman?

Thanks to Clifford, R Lamb, and Robin for these suggestions.

Gabriel Egan

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