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Re: vulgarisms

From:Laurie Gerholz <milo@...>
Date:Thursday, November 12, 1998, 4:18
John Cowan wrote:
> > The general pattern in English is that *domestic* animals are > insulting: "dog", "cow", "bitch", "horse"; but not "wolf", "lion", > "tiger"; still less "rhinoceros", "stegosaurus". >
This pattern doesn't always carry. When it comes to wild animals, it has a lot to do with how the animal is viewed by the culture. I'm still speaking about the English-speaking American culture with which I am most familiar. Carrion eaters have gotten a very poor image in this culture's history. So "vulture", "old crow", "jackal", "hyena" all carry derogatory connotations, to varying degrees. Notice that I'm talking about the culture's *perception* of animal behavior. I know that lions will take carrion, but that's not yet part of their image in popular culture. Some predators also fall into this camp, such as "weasel". And I suspect that it wasn't too long ago that "wolf" was still derogatory -- better understanding and therefore improved popularity of the wolf among white American culture is a relatively recent phenomenon. Laurie --- Laurie Gerholz