Thursday, April 18, 2013

PETA Might Get Pissed

Those of us who are friends to the feline and pals to the pooch might have to add one more threat to the well being of these four-legged family members: defamation. The attack is not against a particular dog or cat, but against the entire species. 

Its an assault of association; a mistake in matching.
Jade (my sister's dog)

The basic definition of language, specifically written language, is a series of symbols that represent a concept shared by those of that language. English speaking people agree that the combination of the symbols d, o, and g represent a highly variable domestic mammal (Canis familiaris) closely related to the gray wolf.

Niley and Selene (my cats)

The combination of c, a, and t represent a carnivorous mammal (Felis catus) long domesticated as a pet and for catching rats and mice.

The naming of the species is not what's threatened;  no one has suggested that the word "dog" is out-dated for our canine companions.  What is at risk is the connotation of "dog." The idea that these puppy pals are traditionally loyal, protective, and playful is closely linked to "dog" that one cannot help but associate those ideas with one another almost subconsciously. 

But, as usual, slang has thrown a few stones into the easy flow between the definition of and the connotations of "dog." Unfortunately, I cannot immediately blame the teens of today because my generation has done the most damage by using "dog" is such contexts:
  • Why would you want to go out with that girl? She is a dog!
  • I spent all night crying because he dogged me.
The first example implies ugliness; the second, rejection or insult. To say that a woman (or man) is a dog is simply incorrect. A woman is only a dog in True Blood. And "She is a dog!" is not the correct way use an adjective.  It's like saying, "She is an ugly."

And how did the characteristics of a dog become associated with rejection and insult. Dogs don't reject anyone (unless they are trained to) nor do they insult anyone (unless they are trained to).  If you want to associate an animal with such behavior, it would make more sense to say "I spent all night crying because he catted me."

I do have to commend the current revisers of slang on providing a more respectable interpretation to "dog." Now, it is used in the following context:
  • My girlfriend's ex-boyfriend was doggin' me at the prom.
  • After running over his skateboard with my Ford F350, Jake dogged me every morning when I pulled into the parking lot.
In the first example, the "insult" and "rejection" make sense, but the slang "dog" doesn't have the same meaning. As my students explained to me, "dog" is a derivative of "mad dog"--both used as a verb--meaning to stare someone down in a threatening way or simply to give, as my students clarified, "the stink eye." I can see the association here. Mad dogs are threatening and they don't exactly bat their eyelashes at their targets.  Also, it associates power, a force to be reckoned with to the animal itself. That's much more respectful and appreciative than "ugly" and "insulting."

But then they got to go and screw it up by creating "dawg" to mean, according to Urban Dictionary, a close friend; a "homie." Why change the spelling then? The original symbol (aka spelling) of "dog" and the original thing it presents more closely associates with the "dawg" definition.  Why change the spelling, thereby disassociating it from those loving, loyal animals?

And what's up with referring to a timid, weak man as a "pussy"? Sure, cats might scurry away from a threat because they don't need to fight to prove themselves. Might as well save a few lives, right? Back a cat into a corner--watch out.
Courtesy of Purplepanda03

So by calling a man a pussy, one is insinuating that a) he knows when to fight and when to walk away and b) you back him into a corner, you won't be walking away without a few scars.

1 comment:

  1. I suspect that most men who are called "pussies" are not tagged in that way because they have any of the virtues that you cite...

    Then again I've heard some men called "pussies" and their immediate reaction is to say, "You are what you eat!" However, I don't think that those men know what I mean. Pet house cats.


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