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View Diary: Rick Perry is for sale, but he's not cheap (88 comments)

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  •  Beef is not a euphemism. (1+ / 0-)
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    It is the Norman French word for the food.   Just as pork is for pig.

    The Normans lords ate beef and pork.  The Anglo Saxon serf ate cow and pig.  

    As time went on, the servants took on airs.

    •  I know the etymology (1+ / 0-)
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      but more than one linguist has suggested that the reason this split between creature and commodity persists is that it helps us cope with with the truth about the plastic-wrapped product we buy in the supermarket.

      I was just playing off of that.

      •  Name two (0+ / 0-)

        Name two linguists who suggest that.

        •  Without digging through the shelves... (0+ / 0-)

          I can't.

          But I can mention that languages as diverse as Spanish and Japanese make a distinction between the terms for animals and the meat coming from that animal. Those languages don't tend to make that distinction in most terms related to other commodities, (In English, we certainly have the generic term meat just as we have the generic wood, but while we split beef from cow we don't shy from oak whether taking about a tree or a board. A lump of coal is still coal, a grain is wheat is wheat. A similar shift is seen in other languages).

          The Anglo-Norman split certainly explains the source of the words in English, but this is a distinction made in many languages without a handy linguistic invasion. And if it's just a matter of the poor people harvesting vs the rich people eating, why don't we say blé when talking about that grass we use for bread?

          Without looking it up, I think I got this from a Michael Pollan book. I'll search for it if you're really interested.

          •  Japanese certainly does not (0+ / 0-)

            Beef is niku 肉 , pork is buta 豚,  duck is kamo 鴨 (well, the particular species of duck that is commonly eaten)  fish is sakana 魚. Wild boar is inoshishi 猪, blue fin tuna is maguro,  Japanese distinguish the cut of meat, and to highlight when the style of preparation is of foreign origin

            Spanish distinguishes for beef some of time, as with the JApanese, when distinguishing the cut of the meat.  Beefsteak is called "bistek or bisteque" or beefsteak.  Spanish does doe not distinguise pork, or chicken. or sheep.

            •  After spending some time looking.... (0+ / 0-)

              I found nothing as definitive as I thought I remembered. I've come to the conclusion that you're absolutely right, and that I married some half-remembered ideas to come up with a wrong-headed idea about this.

              I'll post an apology next week, in a diary not so buried by time.

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