Thursday, April 17, 2008

Some animal word fun

Animals play a large part in our everyday lives and when it comes to the borders between humans and animals the lines are sometimes blurry – at least they blur when it comes to the descriptive ways of describing a person’s character or behaviour. Here are a few words that we use in day to day speech as common place aphorisms that are actually drawn from a strong animal connection:

From “ass” (as in the donkey) we get the word asinine, which is used to refer to person’s stubbornness or their knack for being as notoriously difficult as an ass. If a dancer is notably graceful and flexible in their moves then we say that they move with a feline grace, referring of course to the fluid and particular elegant movements exemplified by cats. If somebody is extremely slow and frequently late you can candidly call them chelonian – as they share a common trait with the tortoise. And the next time someone is rude or generally ill-mannered you can heartily refer to them as being porcine – that is acting like a pig.

We often use animals and animal related words to concretely describe a person’s attitude or behaviour and the wonders of the connections between humans and animals seem to be ever surprising and never ending.