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The Language Files - The best of Quora

Novembre 2014
Le domande (e le risposte) dal social network Quora. Questo mese: Why is it that in English cows and pigs become “beef” and “pork” respectively when they are food, while fish and chicken are always “fish” and “chicken?”

THE BEST OF QUORA

Do you know about Quora? It’s one of the best social networks in terms of questions and answers. Needless to say, there are numerous questions and answers about the English language. This is a particularly good example:

QUESTION
Why is it that in English cows and pigs become “beef” and “pork” respectively when they are food, while fish and chicken are always “fish” and “chicken?”

ANSWER
The reason is historical. After the Norman Conquest (1066) the aristocracy in England spoke French, while the “common” people spoke English. The farmers had “pigs” and “cows” but at the table the lords and ladies ate “porc” and “boeuf.” Chicken and fish, on the other hand, were less “noble” dishes. Everybody ate them and so the “common” English word was also used for the food. 

 


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