Chicken or hen?: Domestic fowl metaphors denoting human beings

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Adam Mickiewicz University

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The native Anglo-Saxon vocabulary related to domestic animals denominations has been increased throughout the centuries and enriched with borrowings from different languages, like French, but also with loanwords from other languages. This work discusses some of the reasons that have traditionally been adduced to explain word loss and semantic change, and see how they can be applied to the field of generic denominations of fowl. It also investigates the various ways in which the introduction of new items has an influence on the recipient language and to what extent native words are affected. In the first section of the paper, we will basically deal with the straight meanings and the ways in which the field was stratified in the formative centuries, while in the second section we will discuss how some of these terms are applied to human beings in a figurative sense to denote a quality shared by humans and animals or rather a characteristic which does not seem to be present in the animal, but it is attributed to it, as there is a tendency to understand human behaviour in terms of human features. Thus, we attempt at providing a panoramic overview of the field concentrating on the most frequently used units and especially on those that underwent a metaphorization process.





Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, vol. 42 (2006), pp. 337-354



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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego