Richard Bailey (Am.Dial. Soc.) on animal terms
Cohen, Gerald Leonard
gcohen at UMR.EDU
Fri Jan 14 03:13:06 UTC 2005
> Ads-l member Richard Bailey was interviewed for the item below, forwarded by J. McCollum to Barry Popik and then to me. Btw, the 1870s are way too early for "hot dog" = hot sausage; (first attestation:1895, Yale, discovered by Barry). As for "eat crow," Barry also treated this item in his article: "Material for the Study of _Eat Crow_: Three Versions of Humorous Story Agree That Scotch Snuff Made the Boiled Crow Particularly Unappetizing." in: _Comments on Etymology_, Oct. 2003, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 7-9.
> Gerald Cohen
> From: Joe McCollum
> Sent: Thursday, January 6, 2005 6:51 PM
> To: bapopik at aol.com
> Subject: NewsEMail
> Hey, I don't belong to the linguistics listserv any more, but take a look
> Talking About Words
> With Prof. Richard W. Bailey
> Eating crow, hot-dogging it and other animal metaphors
> quick and dead.
> (Embedded image moved to file: pic09550.jpg)A spiritual
> discipline known as breatharianism invites its adherents to
> eat only air. Vegetarians eat vegetables. Fruitarians eat
> fruit. Breatharians may be forced to eat solid food
> sometimes but only because air pollution interferes with
> the assimilation of the four gasses fundamental to life:
> hydrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. In a better,
> cleaner world, breatharians could thrive solely on inhaling
> and exhaling.
> English-speaking breatharians face a further obstacle: Our
> language is designed for carnivores and, everywhere we
> look, we discover the traces of meat-eating. Eating crow is
> accepting humiliation. Chow (and the verb chow down) comes
> straight into American English from the China trade. It
> means, as a California newspaper of 1856 explained,
> > "> something good to eat.> "> So a chow hound is doubly a dog
> since the food eaten comes metaphorically from the edible
> Chinese dog, the chow chow, and the eager eating from a
> famished beagle or blue-tick.
> Hot dog (a noun to describe a cocksure young man) and the
> hot dog (an adjective for something pleasant or exciting)
> were recorded in American college slang at almost the same
> time> -> the former at Yale and the latter at Michigan, both in
> the 1890s. (At the University in 1896, a student reported
> that there were some hot dog drawings available.)
> Not long after that we got hot dog! the equivalent of
> > "> Bravo!> "> -> and its companions: hot doggies! and hot diggety
> dog! Nowadays aviators, surfers, snowboarders and all
> manner of athletes attract attention by hot-dogging, though
> these verbal meanings came much later. (Somewhere in this
> barking collection of words come the wiener or frankfurter.
> Examples of eating hot dogs come earlier than these
> meanings, and in the 1870s it was common for people to
> frequent the hot-dog parlors of New York. It remains to be
> seen how the sausage made a metaphor for the sassy and
> Greedy people wolf down food or pig out. In The Merry Wives
> of Windsor, Shakespeare gave us the expression, > "> The
> world's mine oyster> "> for having boundless opportunities, >
> having a juicy delicacy to slurp down.
> Animals are not just the eating or the eaten, of course.
> Animals are everywhere. > "> Don't have a cow, man,> "> admonishes
> Bart Simpson. He might as well have said go bananas, but
> Bart's an animal guy. People flounder around indecisively,
> weasel out of obligations, horse around having fun,
> squirrel away their savings, beef up their resumé, chicken
> out when courage fails, grouse about their boss, beaver
> away at their job, outfox the competition.
> Of course some of these expressions just look like animals.
> The bum steer (bad advice) is probably not bovine, any more
> than we should expect quacking in duck down or duck out.
> But once these words come to our attention, we want the
> animals to come alive.
> (Embedded image moved to file: pic30894.jpg)
> We imagine animals. Is there a bison in the person who is
> buffaloed by a problem? Do dances like the mamba and the
> bunny hug actually resemble the behavior of the creatures
> for which they seem to be named? Is there a baby deer
> hovering around the person who fawns on her best friend or
> a tropical bird squawking in the guy who parrots the ideas
> of others?
> Some of these metaphors we can be pretty sure about if
> we've seen the beast involved. Clam up makes sense, but
> does the mullet > "> bad hair style> "> have something to do with
> the fish? Bear hug, yes, but have a gander, no. People can
> be catty or turkeys or gorillas or coltish or skunks. Do
> animals come to mind with equal vividness? Go bats and buck
> naked are not very obviously connected with animals at all.
> Everybody has a different piece of the language and a
> different set of associations and imaginings. Some of these
> animals are quick, some dead. They are all metaphors.
> (Crow image on front page from quilt at
> (Embedded image moved to file: pic08892.jpg)Richard W.
> Bailey is the Fred Newton Scott Collegiate Professor of
> English. His most recent book is Rogue Scholar: The
> Sinister Life and Celebrated Death of Edward H. Rulloff,
> University of Michigan Press, 2003> -> a biography of an
> American thief, impostor, murderer and would-be philologist
> who lived from 1821 to 1871. It was published by the
> University of Michigan Press in 2003.
> U-M News Service Link: http://www.umich.edu/news/MT/NewsE
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