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English for beginners

Previously I posted on "Ladies of a certain persuasion" - on editing it I thought predilection was a better word, but then partiality, predisposition, proclivity, proneness, propensity and penchant all raised their hands as being more suitable. I can't make up my mind - what does the panel think?


Actually, I think you are using the wrong analogy. Were you speaking of the Sapphic Sisterhood then terms like persuasion or prediliction would be appropriate as it implies a willing choice or acceptance of some inate condition.

But when discussing commercial gratification services, especially as practiced by the unfortunates around Kings Cross, I don't think either case applies. Indeed I would suspect that many of those ladies would happily quit their current line of work were an agreeable alternative available to them. Therefore I would argue that none of the suggested euphemisms is entirely appropriate.

For myself, I have always prefered the phrase I shamelessly cribbed from Mr Terry Pratchett: "Ladies of negotiable virtue".

Since I am neither a lady nor of negotiable virtue that last sentence should have begun "For preference".

My apologies for any confusion. If, however, it caused a reader some merriment: you're welcome.


"sex workers"?
"grass roots entrepreneurs"?
"ladies of otherwise limited career potential"?
"victims of the patriarchy"?

Perhaps Ladies of a Commercial Calling, in the sense of "Oi, Big Ears, it's pensioners' half price day". One almost dropped in astonishment the sheaf of temperance tracts one was charged to distribute among the purple-nosed denizens of our World-Class city as they staggered past on their weary journeys to and from their trains.

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