[Lexicog] "lamb" as a metaphor

Fritz Goerling Fritz_Goerling at SIL.ORG
Fri May 7 18:54:56 UTC 2004

Thank you, Patrick,

That is is very helpful, including the file you attached.

Fritz Goerling

  Attached is a file (in two formats) with a selection of allusive uses of
"lamb" in English extracted from BNC.
  (Sorry, it's only English...)

  In addition to the clich├ęs you mention, English has:
    a.. like a lamb to the slaughter
    b.. meek as a lamb
    c.. gentle as a lamb
    d.. innocent as a lamb
    e.. helpless as a lamb
    f.. mild as a lamb
    g.. like a little lost lamb
    h.. a sacrificial lamb (is this different from a scapegoat?)
    i.. the lamb of God
    j.. the paschal lamb
    k.. He took it like a lamb.
    l.. [The month of] March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.
    m.. etc.
  Lambs also collocate interestingly with "lions", "eagles", "wolves",
"foxes", and "dogs".

  Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of uses of "lamb" in English are as a
mass noun -- lamb
  as meat ---  closely followed by lamb(s) -- count noun -- as farm animals.
The file
  appended here represents about 1% of the total.

  In English, as in Russian and (I suppose) other European languages, this
word is
  shot through with Christian and Judaic religious imagery.  Whether one is
a Christian
  or not, one cannot deny the influence of the Bible -- specifically the
Wycliffe and
  King James versions of the Bible -- on the phraseology of English from the
  century to the present day.

  The word "intertextuality" springs to mind.

  I would expect something similar in Arabic and Iranian. Am I right?
  Islam, after all, is one of the three "heavenly" religions.

  But then, to echo Fritz's question, what about cultures which,
historically, have
  other religious norms?  Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Shintoist, etc.  Are
  lambs any different in such cultures?


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: "Fritz Goerling" <Fritz_Goerling at sil.org>
  To: "lexicographylist yahoogroups" <lexicographylist at yahoogroups.com>
  Sent: Thursday, May 06, 2004 8:50 PM
  Subject: [Lexicog] "lamb" as a metaphor

  > What is associated with the image "lamb" when predicated of a person
  > in your language (not only English?
  > I can only think of "pious as a lamb" (lammfromm) in German.
  > To my knowledge in English you can say "as innocent as a lamb"
  > or "as docile/quiet/obedient as a lamb". And it can be
  > used with reference to someone who you are fond of and who
  > is gentle and lovable.
  > Fritz Goerling
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