Thursday, February 10, 2011

Language Log » Correction of the Year?

Anyone who follows this link will be rewarded with an amusing, almost farcical, example of miscommunication.  Beyond that, data modelers who follow the link and read the brief linguistic analysis will recognize the homonym problem. 

I think the misunderstanding between the reporter and piggery owner could have been amplified by the use of pig in its specific or "marked" form — that is, meaning 'a young member of the domesticated subspecies Sus scrofa domesticus' rather than the general or "unmarked" version, 'any member of Sus scrofa domesticus.' As the Oxford English Dictionary explains under sense 2a of pig, the more specific sense of the word is "chiefly used in periods when and regions where the usual words for an adult pig are swine, hog, sow, or boar."

Language Log » Correction of the Year?

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