PETA dethrones meat related metaphors
Posted: 04 December 2018 09:23 PM   [ Ignore ]
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https://www.resetera.com/threads/phrases-like-bringing-home-the-bacon-may-soon-go-out-of-style.84977/

I don’t know whether these expressions can be completely eradicated. What say you? Some might be more offensive to the PETA group, such as: “More than one way to skin a cat” but I don’t see a problem with: “All your eggs in one basket” The PETA suggestions are not as effective, IMHO.

[ Edited: 04 December 2018 09:30 PM by Logophile ]
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Posted: 05 December 2018 02:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The unfortunate Dr Hamzah has been well and truly stitched up by journalists. In her article she neither advocated the “banning” of meat-related metaphors nor even stated that they would necessarily die out if we all went vegan. PETA do, unsurprisingly, but who takes PETA seriously? Hamzah references PETA’s efforts to change the language, but does not support them - it is the British press who have made it look as though she does. This is just journalistic rabble-rousing.

In any case, the widespread continuing use of metaphors such as ‘flogging a dead horse’ and ‘more than one way to skin a cat’ - although it’s generations since any right-minded person in the English-speaking world felt that flogging exhausted horses or skinning cats was an acceptable activity, proves that a change in attitudes to animals does not necessarily affect the metaphors they use. Many people don’t stop to think about them at all; of those that do, squeamish people are quite capable of convincing themselves that these metaphors originally meant something quite different. I have met people who not only were convinced that neither of the above sayings originally had anything to do with real horses or real pussy-cats, but stuck their fingers in their ears and sang ‘la la la’ when presented with evidence that yes, they really did.

[Edit: corrected URL—drw]

[ Edited: 05 December 2018 04:59 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 05 December 2018 05:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Syntinen Laulu is right, what Hamzah said has been badly misinterpreted by the press.

The idea that veganism would drive out such phrases just doesn’t square with how language works. Metaphors hang on long after their literal sense is no longer understood or applicable (e.g., dead as a doornail; dial the number, tape the conversation). Such phrases may eventually fade away, but if so, it would not be because we changed our eating habits or the way we treat animals. But that’s not the focus of her article. When she writes about the future use of such animal metaphors, she’s mainly talking about the production of new metaphors, and that’s absolutely right. As we grow more aware of the sentient nature of animals, metaphors based in cruelty or consumption of animals will become less and less likely to be created. The old metaphors will hang on, as Hamzah states.

Also underlying the idea that they can be made to disappear is the belief in the strong sense of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, that the way we speak influences how we think. If we no longer talk about mistreating or eating animals, then it will quite literally become unthinkable and such actions will stop. (Nothing in what Hamzah says indicates she buys into this, but PETA certainly does.)

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Posted: 05 December 2018 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Syntinen Laulu: PETA do
Dave Wilton: PETA certainly does.

The old issue of Br./Am collective noun/verb agreement disagreement. And yet we agree on “Police” being a plural collective noun. Language is strange.

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Posted: 05 December 2018 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Another point about Hamzah’s piece. She’s mostly talking about deliberate, often extended, metaphors in literary works. One could very well expect that a rise in vegetarianism/veganism would result in literary writers creating fewer such metaphors. But that has nothing to do with how ordinary people speak and write.

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Posted: 05 December 2018 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Oecolampadius - 05 December 2018 07:49 AM

Syntinen Laulu: PETA do
Dave Wilton: PETA certainly does.

The old issue of Br./Am collective noun/verb agreement disagreement. And yet we agree on “Police” being a plural collective noun. Language is strange.

It’s not a question of disagreement over collective noun/verb agreement as it is disagreement over whether or not organizations are collective nouns. If one views PETA as the total of its members, then it is a collective noun and takes plural agreement. If one views it as a single entity, corporate personhood, then it takes singular agreement. The police is not a defined entity but a collection of law enforcement officers, so it takes the plural (unless you’re from Baltimore). The police department, however, is a single, corporate entity and takes the singular.

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