|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
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.