ANIMALS IN LANGUAGE
Animal diction occupies an important place in the realm of the writers' imaginations. It is through the use of animals that the latter tend to convey a full intellectual image of their societies: The social sphere is reflected by or rubbed on the animal spheres. Fables however are not the only reference here. Many other literary genres trust animals to convey the
meaning they're after well.
Animals make our language pregnant with symbols. Man is intelligent enough to draw short-cuts to reach the exact meaning he wants to deliver without using long wining sentences. He uses animals instead in his metaphors, similes and others to express himself.
And since there are more varieties of animal-imagery users among playwrights, novelists, and poets than can be treated here, I'll focus only on one of them, notably William Blake (1757-1825). His poems are perhaps the most profuse with animals. Let's now quote some of them from J. Bronowski's book, William Blake.
- The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.
- The lust of the goat is the bounty of God.
- The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, the destructive sword, are portions of eternity, too great for the eye of man.
- The fox condemns the trap, not himself.
- Let man wear the fell of the lion, woman the fleece of the sheep.
- The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbet watch the roots; the lion, the tyger, the horse, the
elephant watch the fruits.
- The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the lion.
- The tygers (tigers)of wrath are wiser then the horses of instruction.
- If the lion was advised by the fox, he would be cunning.
- apes gibber
- asses/donkeys bray
- bears growl
- bees hum, buzz
- beetles drone
- birds sing, twitter
- bulls bellow
- camels grunt
- cats mew, purr
- cattle low
- cocks crow
- crickets chirp
- crows caw
- dogs yelp, bark, whine, growl, howl
- doves coo
- ducks quack
- eagles scream
- elephants trumpet
- flies buzz
- foxes yelp, bark
- frogs croak
- geese cackle, hiss
- goats bleat
- hawks scream
- hens cluck, cackle
- horses neigh, snort, whinny
- hounds bay
- hyenas laugh
- jackals howl
- kittens mew
- lambs bleat
- larks sing, warble
- lions growl, roar
- magpies chatter
- mice squeak
- monkeys chatter
- nightingale sing, warble
- owls hoot, screech, scream
- oxen low, bellow
- peacocks, peahens scream
- pigeons coo
- rabbits squeak
- ravens croak
- rooks cow
- pigs grunt, squeal
- seagulls scream
- sheep bleat
- snakes hiss
- small birds chirp
- swans cry
- thrushes whistle, sing
- tigers growl, roar
- turkeys gobble
- vultures scream
- wolves howl
- a gaggle of Geese
- a school/shoal of Fish/Porpoises/Whales
- a troop of Kangaroos
- a flock of Sheep
- a pride of Lions
- a pack of Wolves/Hounds
- a herd of Elephants/Deer/Swine/Pigs
- a parliament of Owls
- a swarm of Bees
- a colony of Ants
- a plague of Locusts
- a cast of Hawks
- a clowder of Cats
- a drove of Cattle
- an ostentation of Peacocks
- a covey of Quail/Partridges
- a broad of Chickens
- a flight of Birds
Not only do domestic animals keep us company, but they affect our everyday language as well. There are a lot of "cats" and "dogs" in our everyday spoken language, in proverbs, sayings, idioms and other current expressions.
This animal, the dog, is considered as the best man's friend. He is quite intelligent but is usually referred to as dirty. The word "dog is used in different situations all of which have a connection with the dog's behaviour and faculties. When we use the verb to dog, we actually mean: to track, to follow, "to keep close behind (a thief), in the footsteps of" (Oxford Dictionary). Yet most of the uses of the word "dog" are pejorative. When someone is compared to the dog, it means that the person in question is base, dirty, etc... The she-dog is a bitch; the young dog is a whelp. The dog's normal cry is "barking", but when the dog is angry he "growls". He is famous for his sensational smelling faculty. He is the most useful pet as a hunter's friend, the blind's leader, the property guard. He is permanently WATCHFUL.
The dog's family is quite a large one, wild and tame: The wild relations of the dog are Wolves and foxes to name only two. Whereas the breeds of the dog are: Collie, Pekinese, Dachshund, Bloodhound, Bulldog and Alsatian.
There are as many phrases, expressions, idioms, proverbs, and sayings that use the word "dog" and I'll try to "dog" them down for you. So let's "dog" them together, right now.
DOG PROVERBS & SAYINGS
- Give a dog a name and hang him.
- Let sleeping dogs lie.
- Love me, love my dog.
- Barking dogs seldom bite.
- Every dog has his/its day.
- Help a lame dog over a stile.
- You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
- Dead dogs don't bite.
- "Qui couche avec les chiens se léve avec des puces". (fr)
- All are not thieves that dogs bark at.
- Cry 'Havoc!' and let sleep the dogs of war"
W. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
THE DOG IN IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS
- a dog in the manger: someone (s.o) who prevents others from using, enjoying
or having something (s.th) that is of no use to him.
- to go to the dogs.: to be ruined
- to lead/give s.o a dog's life: to make life continuously
difficult for him.
- to be top dog.: to be the most powerful person.
- to be like a dog with two tails.: to feel very proud & happy
- to be in the dog-house.: to be in disgrace or in s.o's disfavour.
THE DOG IN DIFFERENT EXPRESSIONS AND PHRASES
- Dog's age: long time.
- dog-eared: worn & shabby.
- dog-wood : Hardwood tree.
- dogfight : Aerial skirmish.
- dogma : Established opinion.
- dog peddle : Elementary swim stroke.
- dog-eat-dog : Marked by ruthless self-interest.
- shaggy dog stories : Humorous tale involving a talking animal.
- dog-tired : Tuckered out/exhausted.
- dog-gone : Darned.
- dog tag : G.I. Identification.
- dog cheap : At a very low price.
- dog days : Hot sultry period of Summer.
- hotdog : Ball park refreshment/Sandwich.
- dog hap : Brief sleep.
- dog catcher : Pound employee.
- die like a dog/die a dog's : die in shame & misery.
- dressed like a dog's dinner : In the height fashion.
- give/throw s.th to the dogs : throw it away as worthless.
- look like a dog's breakfast/dinner : Very untidy/messy.
- not stand(even)a dog's chance : Have no chance with a stronger
- be(the)underdog : be submissive.
- dog paddle.
"Rarely do we see a cat discomfited. They seem to have no conscience, and they never regret...Maybe we secretly envy them." Barbara Webster.
"The leopard cannot change its spots."
There is always a sort of interactive relationships between the dog and the cat in all cultures. It is generally that of quarrel and argues. The two can't bear each other. Like the dog, the cat has a large family even larger than that of the dog. There are: The lion and the lioness, Tiger, Jaguar, Lynx, Panther, Leopard and the Puma. But the cat as the pivot of the following expressions is used this way.
CAT'S PROVERBS & SAYINGS
- "I had rather be a kitten and cry "mew" than one of these same metre
ballad-mongers" |HENRY IV| (W. Shakespeare)
- "When the cat is away, the mice will play."
- "Don't make yourself a mouse, or the cat will eat you."
- "Curiosity killed the cat."
- "Chat échaudé craint l'eau froide"(French)
- to have kittens: to be very anxious about s.th.
- to play cat and mouse with s.o:
- to let the cat out of the bag: to reveal a secret.
- to put the cat among the pigeons/canaries:
- to rain cats and dogs: to rain heavily.
- to have not enough room to swing a cat in: to have very
- to lead a cat-and-dog life: to live a life full of quarrels.
- like a cat on hot bricks: very nervous or jumpy.
- wait for the cat to jump: refuse to give advice before one
sees what other people are thinking or doing.
- see which way the cat jumps : (the same)
- cat-o'-nine-tails: punishing wrong doers.
- to fight like cat and dog: to disagree or argue violently.
- as busy as a cat on hot tin roof: very busy.
- a cat has nine lives: cats can survive s that would kill most
- cat around: spend time aimlessly.
- a cat in gloves catches no mice: careful & polite people
may not get what they want.
- grin like a Cheshire cat: to grin broadly.
- cat burglar: a burglar who enters buildings from the roof or high
windows using drainpipes or balconies.
- cat's cradle: a children's game.
- cat's eyes: the rows of reflecting studs which light up to mark
the middle of the roadways in the dark.
- cat-call: loud, shrill whistle expressing disapproval.
- cat-fish: a sort of fish.
- cat-nap/cat-sleep : short sleep.
- cat's paw: s.o used as a tool by another.
- cat suit: one-piece garment.
- cat walk: narrow footway along a bridge.
- cat fight: a dispute with great hostility.
- Tomcat: woman-chaser.
Almost all cultures hold the horse in great esteem because it embodies power, prosperity and respect. The horse is perhaps the noblest in the kingdom of animals. He is a tame animal and he has got great faculties as strength, detection of his riders' emotions and intelligence, to name only a few.
In English, like most animals the horse is frequently used in proverbs, sayings, idioms and in other expressions. To begin with..
PROVERBS AND SAYINGS
- You can ride a horse to the water but you cannot make him drink.
- Don't put the cart before the horse: don't do s.th in the wrong order.
- Don't swap horses in mid-stream.
- If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
- It's too late to shut the stable-door when the horse is stolen.
- Never look a gift-horse in the mouth: to show dissatisfaction with a gift.
- "Stout horses and willing minds make short journeys." She Stoops To Conquer
- "A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse."
- to break a horse(in) : to discipline it.
- (straight) from the horse's mouth : get info; from the person who knows it.
- to hold one's horses : to be patient, to wait, to hesitate.
- to frog a horse: to waste time & energy on s.th useless.
- to be on one's high horses: to insist on being treated with respect.
- to eat like a horse: to eat a lot of food.
- a horse of another colour: quite a different matter.
- a dark horse: a person whose success is not yet known.
- back the wrong horse: support the loser in a contest.
- horse-box: closed vehicle for carrying horses
- horse-chestnut: a large tree
- horse-fly: a large insect
- horse-laugh: loud, coarse laugh
- horse-man-ship: art of riding.
- horse-power: to measure car engines(hp)
- horse-play: rough noisy fun or play
- horse-radish: a plant
- horse sense: ordinary wisdom
" Let's go back to school "