The (holy) cow: Bossie or Bessie?

Mark A. Mandel mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU
Fri Apr 28 12:52:00 UTC 2006

So am I, Jon. It's difficult to derive "Bossie" from _bov-_. Derivation from
a nominative rather than from a stem is very, very rare, though not unknown
or impossible. Besides, it'd be a problem to account for the English vowel
as opposed to the Latin one. English short /o/ usually corresponds to Latin
short /o/, but the vowel in nominative /boos/ is long.

That depends on who's saying it. If it was English speakers who'd learned (a
bit of?) Latin, they would NOT be saying it as Cicero would've.

As long as we're in the barnyard, what about "Soo-eeee" to call pigs (sus,


The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list