Idiom question

Bob Haas highbob at MINDSPRING.COM
Sat Jan 22 01:53:19 UTC 2000

But, Andrea, isn't pig truly generic, as opposed to cow or goose?  I mean,
isn't a female pig a sow?  That's what I say, when I want to make a
distinction.  Although, come to think about it, I guess a male pig is a pig.
I don't know of a special term off the top of my head for he-pig.  Isn't it
nice when we can think out loud?

> From: "A. Vine" <avine at ENG.SUN.COM>
> Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 17:35:42 -0800
> Subject: Re: Idiom question
> "Peter A. McGraw" wrote:
>> No, I don't use "bovine" in colloquial speech, any more than I use
>> "siblings" for both brothers and sisters, except in highly formal contexts
>> or when there's just no way to avoid it and still say what I mean.  But
>> that doesn't mean a better word exists.  For me there simply is no
>> colloquial word that encompasses cows, bulls and steers the way "sheep"
>> encompasses both rams and ewes.  I think of a heifer as a kind of cow, but
>> I don't think (or speak) of a bull as a kind of cow.  I would probably use
>> "cow" in the examples you give above, but in doing so, I would be choosing
>> to name the female of the species in the absence of a word that would
>> encompass the male as well.
> Interesting.  One of the few cases where the female term is the generic...
> What do you mean when you say "pig"?  "Goose"?
> Andrea

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