Camels vs. dromedaries? (UNCLASSIFIED)

Mullins, Bill AMRDEC Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Thu Apr 3 15:35:58 UTC 2008

Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

These are pictures from a set of trading cards issued about 1888.  They
were inserted in packs of cigarettes.

Camel (note two humps)

Dromedary (note one hump)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society
> [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Joel S. Berson
> Sent: Thursday, April 03, 2008 9:05 AM
> Subject: Camels vs. dromedaries?
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Camels vs. dromedaries?
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> -----------------
> In the early 19th century, might people have used the word
> "camel" to refer to one species (I am guessing to the
> Bactrian) and "dromedary" to refer to the other species (the Arabian)?
> The OED merely asserts that " a lighter and fleeter variety
> of the [Arabian] is known as the Dromedary."
> Or perhaps the distinction was made only in Salem, Massachusetts.
> In James Felt's _Annals of Salem_ (2nd ed., 1845 & 1849), he
> describes several collections of animals exhibited there in
> 1834.  Of one he writes "In the collection were ... camels;" of
> another later in the year his complete description is "There
> is a similar exhibition here. Of the animals were two dromedaries."
> In _The House of the Seven Gables_ (1851), Hepzibah's first,
> and a steady, customer at her cent-shop is a young schoolboy
> who is fond of gingerbread animals.  On one visit, Hawthorne
> writes, he "now proposed to eat a camel."  The next day he
> "had signalized his omnivorous prowess by swallowing two
> dromedaries and a locomotive."  The day after that, when he
> reappears on an errand for his mother, Hawthorne reminds us
> who he is by writing "the little devourer ... of Jim Crow,
> the elephant, the camel, the dromedaries, and the locomotive."
> So these two writers were making some
> distinction.  Was it the number of humps?  Or the slimmer
> outline of the fleet dromedary (seen in the profiles of a
> parade or a gingerbread treat)?
> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -
Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list