Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Mentor-Protege Relationships Now Include Mentees

I always try to use language properly. Words adapt when dictionaries catch up to real world descriptions. One way to describe working relationships in the real world has always included connections between mentors and their proteges. In recent years, some business writers have gotten sloppy by referring to the junior person as a "mentee" rather than a protege. I shake my head at this unfortunate trend.

The word "mentee" is of recent vintage, according to Merriam-Webster. It appears to modify the word "mentor" when no such modification is necessary. Read the dictionary definition of "mentor." The word originates with a Greek character and defines a teacher. Read the dictionary definition of "protege." It originates from French and defines a learner. Read the Wikipedia description of mentorship. It clearly describes the relationship between mentors and proteges. There is no need to create a new word for protege that modifies the word mentor.

I prefer to use traditional language. I lament such changes to the English business lexicon. Calling someone a protege worked perfectly fine for a long time until some writers decided not to pay attention anymore. I have mentored people in the past and may do so again. I do not need to be anyone's protege; if I were for some reason, I would never call myself a mentee.