"Cock," again

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jul 7 20:35:35 UTC 2008

Transactions of the Philological Society
Volume 106 Issue 1, Pages 71 - 91
Published Online: 6 Feb 2008
Journal compilation (c) 2008 The Philological Society
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Published on behalf of the Philological Society

Contribution to the study of a euphemism in the intimate lexis of
Slavonic and Germanic languages

Brian Cooper
Department of Slavonic Studies, University of Cambridge
Correspondence to Department of Slavonic Studies
University of Cambridge
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge CB3 9DA
Email: bfc20 at cam.ac.uk


This paper studies the metaphorical origin of a well-known, vulgar
euphemistic name for the penis, especially in Germanic (e.g. English
cock and German hahn) and Slavonic (e.g. words with the stems
pet-/pit-, kur- and kog-/koh-/kok-), but also in some other languages.
Although it can be surmised that the vulgar sense of these words in
some languages may have arisen from the sense '(stop)cock', in view of
the urinary function of the penis, this view seems inaccurate not only
in the Slavonic but also in the Germanic languages. Judging by the
material presented, it is much more probable that the reasons
underlying the metaphor hahn/cock/petux'rooster' >
hahn/cock/petux'penis' are linked, first and foremost, with the
ancient association of the rooster with male characteristics,
primarily of the procreative type. It is from this metaphor that the
sense Hahn/cock/petux'spigot' arises (the penis is envisaged as a
tap). It is possible that this same metaphor gave rise to the concept
Hahn/cock/kurok'hammer of a firearm' (the cocking piece and the penis
can stick up like the neck and head of a crowing cock).

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
 -Sam'l Clemens

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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