"fish" (was Re: "moist")

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 8 21:05:58 UTC 2011

We can agree that _fish_ 'woman' comes from _fish_ 'fish.'  The
semantic details remain obscure.

An olfactory explanation of _fish_ would be far more plausible if
dismissive, metonymic, olfactory  designations for  certain kinds of
people were common, but they're not. While I've heard crude masculine
allusions to the odor in question, I can't say that I've encountered
them more than three or four times in my entire life as a guy.
Non-olfactory terms for women, some highly disdainful, are of course
extremely common.

I believe that the alternative line of development that I suggested
has at least the virtue of being more semantically conventional.  But
the 8/7,000,000,000 of the world's population that really cares about
this matter will have to draw their own conclusions, or else develop
their own theories.


On Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 1:52 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "fish" (was Re: "moist")
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Nov 8, 2011, at 1:39 PM, Charles C Doyle wrote:
>> Ron wirtes, "I can't think of a slang term for codgers that is based on the putative urine smell of old people, but if there were one (there perhaps isn't only because  piss doesn't smell like anything but piss), I woudn't think of it as neoFreudian."
>> Growing up in Texas, I always used to hear that Pearl Beer tastes like horse's piss (and I used to wonder who did the taste test).  Perhaps (reversing the direction of the figure) codgers could be termed "Pearlies."  NonneoFreudianly, of course.
> Or as Pearls.  Allowing one to hold open the door for one's elders while announcing "Pearls before swine".
> LH
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