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I should probably count myself fortunate that I almost reached my allotted three score and ten without having come across this dreadful word.

But alas my belief that a mentor has a protégé has now been cruelly shattered.

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@HS Perhaps "The Vocational Guidance Quarterly" vol 32 p196 would serve:
"Encourage the mentee to approach life and goals with enthusiasm"

jayles April 7, 2014 @ 11:07PM

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That's from 1913

jayles April 7, 2014 @ 11:09PM

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Serve for what?

OED lists 1965 as earliest use.

However, regardless of its age, it's a dreadful word. :-))

Hairy Scot April 8, 2014 @ 12:39AM

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Whether it's dreadful or not is a personal issue, and once I got used to it it sounded fine to me.

Perhaps it's unnecessary, as my dictionary gives exactly the same definition for mentee and protégé. However, the use of the word mentor has increased enormously in the last few years, as mentoring becomes popular in companies, so people preferring a linked pair is hardly surprising, á la employer/employee etc..

Employee and payee appeared a long time after the -er versions; I wonder if there were objections to them at the same time.

I might suggest a possible difference between protégé(e) and mentee - a protégé(e) is usually chosen by the mentor, for example a famous musician might take an aspiring youngster under their wing - that person becomes their protégé(e). But in mentoring within companies, new employees are often assigned to mentors, the mentors don't choose them, so perhaps mentee is more appropriate in those circumstances.

@jayles - unfortunately this is one of those examples where Google Books is talking nonsense. It says 1913, but look at that cover: that's never 1913. What's more it refers to some text or other from 1982. I'm very distrustful about the dates they give, especially when I can't look inside the book. It's got one from the US Code listed as 1959, for example, which turns out to be a from 2006, for example.

There's a possible example from 1958 (but I'm doubtful), and a definite from 1974 - Research Issues in the Employment of Women.

Warsaw Will April 13, 2014 @ 6:15AM

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Of course it's a personal thing. It's an opinion!

As for employees being assigned to mentors; those are called apprentices. ;)

Hairy Scot April 13, 2014 @ 6:25AM

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@HS - Apprenticeship and mentoring are two totally different things. The former is a formal period of training, usually under a particular boss, who is responsible for that training, with usually some sort of qualification at the end.

Mentoring, in business at least, is usually an informal arrangement and your mentor is not your boss, but a more experienced employee, possibly at the same grade as you, who can help with your training, keep an eye on you and give advice where necessary. Mentoring is particularly prevalent in knowledge-based industries such as banking, where highly-qualified staff get a lot of responsibility early on, without any apprenticeship period. :)

But in any case, what makes a word 'dreadful'? I can understand words that insult other people or words that describe horrible things being described as dreadful. I can understand words which sound ugly being called dreadful, perhaps.There are words I don't particularly like, but I'd never call them dreadful.

Apparently Oscar Wilde thought 'always' was a dreadful word, and then there's this from a well-known pronunciation poem:

"Beware of heard, a dreadful word. That looks like beard and sounds like bird"

But mentee, a natural partner for mentor? I'm afraid I don't really get it. I wonder if what really makes it dreadful is simply that it is new. :)

Warsaw Will April 14, 2014 @ 5:26AM

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jayles April 14, 2014 @ 7:06AM

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@jayles- he has a great argument - somebody comes across a word they haven't seen before; they don't like it, or think that its construction doesn't follow a certain rule, so hey presto, 'it's not a word', despite having been around for forty years or so, and being listed in several dictionaries. Interesting about the origins of mentor, though.

Of mentee (and mentoree, which seems to exist, but is far less common than mentee), he says "Both of these constructs reflect the same kind of grammatical over extension toddlers make when they say things like swammed or runned."

What about looking at it another way - they reflect the sort of playful bending of the rules that people have been doing with English for centuries.

I thought the best bit was the comment by Daniel Greene, who actually does some mentoring (for interpreters) - saying that although he doesn't particularly like mentee, 'None of the other options above (protégé, student teacher, aspiring artist) fit peer-to-peer mentoring, either.' - I would think this is even truer of mentoring programmes in business. And that point about peer-to-peer is important: the huge increase in the use of the word mentoring (a more than forty times increase since 1980) is no doubt largely accounted for by peer-to-peer mentoring, where words like protégé don't seem quite appropriate.

Warsaw Will April 14, 2014 @ 11:41AM

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Thanks for that link.
A most interesting blog.

Could/Would/Should the mentor/mentee logic be applied to hector?

Hairy Scot April 14, 2014 @ 12:22PM

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@HS Strictly speaking, the -ee add-on should only be used on French loan-words as it comes from the French past participle. However it seems to have taken on a life of its own in English and become one of the building-blocks for making up new words, so one may do whatever one will unless the meaning is beclouded.

It truly has its uses: in writing software I use the label "pointee" to indicate the data or function a "pointer" is poinitng at - what else would I call it?

I think this is what drives the rise of new words, the sudden need for a label; much the same happens with "ize" appended to a word; once we can find a label for a complex idea it simplifies our thinking. For instance, "bastardization" is very much a shorthand label for a manifolded idea.

"Rupee" has of course other roots.

jayles April 14, 2014 @ 3:12PM

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Would target not serve just as well as pointee? :-))

Your comment reminded me of an occasion when some colleagues and I devised what we called a Glescaranto Precompiler for PL/1 where pointer became "wee arra", based was "hingin ontae", static was "nae movin".
I won't list everything but the unprocessed code made amusing reading. Much more interesting than what it became after translation.

(Glescaranto is a word used to describe the dialect spoken by most residents of Glasgow.)

Hairy Scot April 14, 2014 @ 4:41PM

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@HS Sounds like you had fun! My first computer game was on a PDP8 in 1970.
The oddest thing about programming languages today is one would have thought after fifty years they'd have business/financial math sorted, but pick up any modern language and it just gives you "drowning-point" math, and "dinnae-fash-y'sel" no-types, which makes adding-up a lottery for the unwary.

jayles April 14, 2014 @ 5:57PM

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"drowning point"!!! Luv it!!!

I retired a few years ago after 40 years in IT, or DP as it was when I started. :-))
This article brought back some memories:-

You might find it interesting.

Hairy Scot April 14, 2014 @ 7:36PM

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In a follow-up to the blog post in jayles' link, the writer, Glen J Player, seems to have given into 'the inevitable', and accepted mentee, because of its standing at Ngram. But he forgot to include protégé, and I'm sure HS will be happy to know that protégé seems to be making a comeback, both in BrE and AmE:

Warsaw Will April 15, 2014 @ 1:58PM

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