The OED’s June 2004 Newsletter is called “19 April 2004: a day in the life of the OED” and contains descriptions of what the various editors, managers, planners, &c did on that day. It’s full of great tidbits of the lexicographical life. One entry that puzzled me was:
Katherine Martin, Assistant Editor (North American Editorial Unit)
I was working on a draft entry for the verb other (and the related adjective othered). Due to the complex and philosophical nature of these terms (and our mutual interest in the subject matter), Abigail and I decided to split them up — she took on the noun othering — so that we could discuss the definitions in detail and share our research.
Is anyone familiar with this verb “to other”? I’m guessing that it means something like ‘to render alien or unfamiliar’ (like German verfremden), but I’d like to know more.
(Via aldiboronti at Wordorigins.)
Update. The draft entry is up, and here it is:
trans. (refl. in early use). To become conscious of by viewing as a distinct entity; (in later use) spec. to conceptualize (a people, a group, etc.) as excluded and intrinsically different from oneself. Cf. OTHER n. 9.
1936 G. E. MUELLER Philos. of our Uncertainty 89 Thought posits and realizes itself by othering itself and taking the expression of this seeming other as its own. 1963 A. W. WATTS Two Hands of God Introd. 25 In mystical traditions, God ‘others’ himself in creating the world, in creating the appearance of innumerable creatures acting on their own. 1980 Boundary 8 301 Absorption of what we have already ‘othered’ can never return us to a state of paradisal identity; it can only identify us demonically with the terrifying alienated products of our differentiating consciousness. 1995 Grand Royal No. 2. 13/3 People who are ‘Othered’ in whatever way, made to feel marginal or suppressed or oppressed or whatever. 2003 Jrnl. Women’s Hist. 15 159 Kurds similarly have been ‘othered’ by Turkish discourse as ‘backward’ and ‘traditional’, in opposition to the modern secular image of the Turk, and this image has been exported to the West.
1980 P. WEISS You, I & Others 336 An *othered complex of individuals is quite different from othered individuals. 2003 Michigan Q. Rev. 42 653 The assumed ‘universality’ of straight white men’s writing, and the policing and self-policing, the marginalization and self-marginalization, of othered groups’ writings are two sides of the same racially and sexually delimited coin.
I don’t like it any better now that I see the examples.