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Milk
Posted: 23 December 2016 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]
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http://www.cbsnews.com/news/milk-substitutes-soy-almond-substitutes-plant-based-alternatives-label-fight/

The milk industry seems to have an arguable and perhaps winnable point.
Almonds and soy are an ersatz milk product; therefore, it would seem misleading for those products to be classified as milk. Milk, as defined by dictionaries can only come from female mammals, by secreting milk from mammary glands.

OED

a. A whitish fluid, rich in fat and protein, secreted by the mammary glands of female mammals (including humans) for the nourishment of their young, and taken from cows, sheep, etc., as an article of the human diet.

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Posted: 23 December 2016 03:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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On the other hand:

2.
a. A milky juice or latex present in the stems or other parts of various plants, which exudes when the plant is cut, and is often acrid, irritant, or toxic. Also: spec. the drinkable watery liquid found in the hollow space inside the fruit of the coconut.
...
5.
a. A culinary, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, or other preparation resembling milk, esp. in colour. Usually with the principal ingredient or use specified by a preceding or following word.
soya, tree milk, etc.: see the first element; ALMOND MILK n., RICE MILK n. ...
b.  milk of almonds n. = ALMOND MILK n.

Also from OED.

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Posted: 23 December 2016 03:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The milk industry could use a little of that good old diary substitute of human kindness.

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Posted: 23 December 2016 05:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Logophile - 23 December 2016 02:28 PM

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/milk-substitutes-soy-almond-substitutes-plant-based-alternatives-label-fight/

Milk, as defined by dictionaries can only come from female mammals, by secreting milk from mammary glands.

OED

a. A whitish fluid, rich in fat and protein, secreted by the mammary glands of female mammals (including humans) for the nourishment of their young, and taken from cows, sheep, etc., as an article of the human diet.

Oh?  What would the dairy industry do with milkweed, a requirement for the survival of Monarch butterflies?

milk-magnesia-skin.jpg

[ Edited: 23 December 2016 05:28 PM by cuchuflete ]
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Posted: 24 December 2016 02:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The milk industry seems to have an arguable and perhaps winnable point.
Almonds and soy are an ersatz milk product; therefore, it would seem misleading for those products to be classified as milk. Milk, as defined by dictionaries can only come from female mammals, by secreting milk from mammary glands.

Not so: the OED goes on to state that milk has been routinely used to describe precisely such products for well over a millennium. (’Mylke of almandes‘ was a staple of high-end medieval cookery, since there were so many fast days when dairy products were forbidden, and seasons when cows and sheep simply weren’t lactating; this was the standard substitute for animal milk.) If accepted traditional usage is the yardstick, I don’t see how it could possibly be argued that almond milk producers (and so by extension the producers of soy and other milks) are unreasonable to call their product what it has always been called for centuries.

I think it very unlikely that any consumers are actually misled by the name. If you argue that milk in this sense is misleading, what about cream in terms such as ice cream, peppermint creams, cream of tartar, cold cream, cream sherry, et cetera...?

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Posted: 24 December 2016 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Yeah, linguistically the dairy industry doesn’t have a leg to stand on. But that does not necessarily indicate what the outcome of the legal battle will be.

From the OED:

wyrte meolc (OE; wort milk)
almond milk (1381)
milk of almonds (a.1425)
rice milk (1620)
coconut milk (1698)
soy milk (1907)

And the non-edibles:
milk of mercury (1694)
milk of scammony (1694; gum resin)
milk of sulfur (1728)
milk of the moon (1728; lime)
milk of lime (1784)
milk of roses (1814)
milk of wax (1875)
Milk of Magnesia (1880)
moonmilk (1885; lime)

[ Edited: 24 December 2016 08:10 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 24 December 2016 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Not so: the OED goes on to state that milk has been routinely used to describe precisely such products for well over a millennium.

True, milk can be used to describe anything that resembles its characteristics, such as that of any milky liquid substance. However, that does not identify it as an unadulterated milk product. When one asks for a glass of milk there’s only one interpretation, which is a glass of liquid from the mammary glands of a mammal, typically from that of a cow.

Yeah, linguistically the dairy industry doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Please elaborate. Soybeans and almonds are not defined as liquids. The fact that one can extract a milky liquid from these food sources does not classify them as a de facto genuine dairy milk product. I’m going by the many definitions submitted in dictionaries.

Am I mistaken? I have a feeling you’re going to say yes.

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Posted: 24 December 2016 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Yes, you are mistaken in your linguistic analysis (but not in your prognostication about our response).

No one is claiming, nor do I think that anyone has ever claimed, that almond milk or soymilk are dairy products. And in fact they are deliberately marketed as “non-dairy” products. But the word milk has a long history, over a thousand years, of being used for liqiuds that resemble dairy milk. To say tha milk can only be used to refer to dairy milk is a shoddy and incorrect analysis of both its history and current usage. And no major dictionary says otherwise.

When one asks for a glass of milk there’s only one interpretation, which is a glass of liquid from the mammary glands of a mammal, typically from that of a cow.

I’ve been in many households where a request for milk will result in your being handed a glass of almond milk.

[ Edited: 24 December 2016 01:28 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 24 December 2016 07:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The fact that one can extract a milky liquid from these food sources does not classify them as a de facto genuine dairy milk product.

They don’t claim this product is dairy milk.

They claim it is almond milk. This is the term that has been used for this product for over 600 years: it is the only English language name for this substance.

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Posted: 24 December 2016 10:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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No one is claiming, nor do I think that anyone has ever claimed, that almond milk or soymilk are dairy products. And in fact they are deliberately marketed as “non-dairy” products. But the word milk has a long history, over a thousand years, of being used for liqiuds that resemble dairy milk. To say tha milk can only be used to refer to dairy milk is a shoddy and incorrect analysis of both its history and current usage. And no major dictionary says otherwise.

I agree, that milk has been used for liquids that resemble dairy milk, but the operative word is resemble.  The liquid that is extracted from these food products resemble a milky substance in color or consistency. It is for this reason these plant-based products are prefixed with a food source. The word milk might have a long history over a thousand years, but nothing compared to the human consumption of dairy milk that goes as far back as the Neolithic era.

Another interesting point: Wikipedia,

There is a certain amount of confusion prevalent when it comes to beverages named soy beverage, soy drink or soy milk respectively. This is caused by several factors:
The agricultural traditions or laws in many countries require that only milks sourced from certain lactating animals are legally allowed to be named milk when sold commercially, often only cow’s milk is allowed to be named milk on the packaging, and any other milks must state the name of the respective animal (goat milk, sheep milk etc.). This leads the manufacturers of plant milks to name their products beverage or drink instead, invent fantasy based names, or omit the name entirely in favor of descriptive packaging.

Keep in mind, this is not my argument. There are twenty-five members of Congress who say that if it’s from soybeans almond or rice, it should not be labeled as milk. These Congress members are asking the FDA to investigate and require plant-based products to adopt a name other than milk.

I’ve been in many households where a request for milk will result in your being handed a glass of almond milk.

Wouldn’t that be presumptuous on the part of your host? Why is one arbitrarily handed a glass of almond milk over soymilk or rice milk? You’re stretching your argument, because if I order a glass of milk invariably I’m going to be served dairy milk.  Regardless, it would certainly be an anomaly if one is served almond or soymilk when one orders a glass of milk.  In my experience throughout my lifetime every restaurant or household where I or anyone else has asked for a glass of milk, we’re served unerringly with a glass of dairy milk, unless a plant-based source is prefaced, i.e. almond milk, soy milk.

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Posted: 25 December 2016 03:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Logophile - 24 December 2016 10:24 PM


I’ve been in many households where a request for milk will result in your being handed a glass of almond milk.

Wouldn’t that be presumptuous on the part of your host? Why is one arbitrarily handed a glass of almond milk over soymilk or rice milk? You’re stretching your argument, because if I order a glass of milk invariably I’m going to be served dairy milk.  Regardless, it would certainly be an anomaly if one is served almond or soymilk when one orders a glass of milk.  In my experience throughout my lifetime every restaurant or household where I or anyone else has asked for a glass of milk, we’re served unerringly with a glass of dairy milk, unless a plant-based source is prefaced, i.e. almond milk, soy milk.

You’re arguing on the side of two different fences.  If you are asking for a refreshing beverage in a friend’s home the polite host might ask if you are allergic to soy beans or tree nuts or whatever.  If you are purchasing a product at a place of business and you see a container that states without any qualification that it is milk you have every right, at least in our society, to expect it to be cow’s milk.

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Posted: 25 December 2016 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Logophile - 24 December 2016 10:24 PM


Keep in mind, this is not my argument. There are twenty-five members of Congress who say that if it’s from soybeans almond or rice, it should not be labeled as milk.

Twenty-five of the five hundred and thirty-five members of the legislative branch have an opinion about language.  Said opinion has assumed importance in their busy schedules due to - (check all that apply)

1) lobbyists, checkbooks in hand
2) commercial constituents, checkbooks in hand
3) heartfelt concern for small dairy farmers, and the egregious harm they suffer at the hands of soy farmers and almond growers
4) paucity of linguistic skills among legislators

The petition by these twenty-five was to the FDA, an organization which last spring “deemed”, with force of law, that a handheld battery with variable voltage/wattage discharge is a “tobacco product”.

Is this an example of prescriptive or proscriptive lexicography in battle with descriptive linguistics?

If the dairy lobby wins this scrimmage, they may feel emboldened to take on peanut butter.  The danger there is that not more than a handfull of members of Congress know the difference between a legume and a nut, and that the apple butter lobby won’t go quietly.

Pass the Cream of Wheat, please.

[ Edited: 25 December 2016 06:52 AM by cuchuflete ]
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Posted: 25 December 2016 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Two entirely different criteria. What is mandated as legal usage of a term in commercial trade regulations does not necessarily conform to linguistic reality.

Case in point: a sparkling wine made in California cannot be sold in Europe with a label of “champagne.” And a bottle of French cognac in my possession says that it is “Fine Champagne.” In this case the EU labeling regulation says that “champagne” refers to where the product was produced, not what substance is in the bottle, even though probably not one person in a thousand would make the distinction on the grounds used by the regulators.

[ Edited: 25 December 2016 07:48 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 25 December 2016 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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You’re arguing on the side of two different fences.  If you are asking for a refreshing beverage in a friend’s home the polite host might ask if you are allergic to soy beans or tree nuts or whatever. 

Actually and realistically, if I ask for a refreshing beverage I expect and hope to be offered a beer or a gin and tonic and on a really hot day a lemonade might not disappoint me, but any milk product is just not my cup of tea, (pun intended).

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Posted: 25 December 2016 10:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I’ve been in many households where a request for milk will result in your being handed a glass of almond milk.

We haven’t yet come to that pass in SE England! But there are plenty of households where a request for cream for coffee will be met with non-dairy whitener and a request for butter will bring forth what I understand is legally known as “yellow fat spread”. But to my mind this simply means that the requestees do not consider themselves obliged to provide literally what was asked for and that a substitute is acceptable; not that they consider that non-dairy whitener and margarine ’are‘ cream and butter.

And a bottle of French cognac in my possession says that it is “Fine Champagne.”

That’s because within the legally-defined area of Cognac in SW France are two regions called Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. This place name is cognate with English champaign, with the base meaning ‘area of open country’ but in French seems to have acquired the more specific sense of ‘rolling, low, chalky hills’. Both the brandy and the sparkling wine regions share this characteristic, and as the name is as far as anybody can tell as old in the one region as the other, both are entitled to use it for their traditional product.

[ Edited: 26 December 2016 12:54 AM by Syntinen Laulu ]
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Posted: 25 December 2016 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Twenty-five of the five hundred and thirty-five members of the legislative branch have an opinion about language.  Said opinion has assumed importance in their busy schedules due to - (check all that apply)
1) lobbyists, checkbooks in hand
2) commercial constituents, checkbooks in hand
3) heartfelt concern for small dairy farmers, and the egregious harm they suffer at the hands of soy farmers and almond growers

4) paucity of linguistic skills among legislators

And amongst the populace in general.

The petition by these twenty-five was to the FDA, an organization which last spring “deemed”, with force of law, that a handheld battery with variable voltage/wattage discharge is a “tobacco product”.

That’s all understood, but you’re preaching to the choir.

Is this an example of prescriptive or proscriptive lexicography in battle with descriptive linguistics?

If not more than a handful of members of Congress know the difference between a legume and a nut; I’m quite certain that none of them are going to know anything about prescriptive or descriptive linguistics.

If the dairy lobby wins this scrimmage, they may feel emboldened to take on peanut butter.  The danger there is that not more than a handfull of members of Congress know the difference between a legume and a nut, and that the apple butter lobby won’t go quietly.

I must digress, because very few people might know the difference between a legume and a nut. They’re both seeds, a nut having only one seed protected by a hard outer shell whereas a legume is a pod with multiple seeds. Moreover, I don’t think many people recognize that a peanut is a legume, but not a nut. Why they’re called peanuts is speculation, but a specific example of why linguistics in many instances has no influence in the legislature body.

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