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  #1  
Old 12-09-2007, 10:07 PM
equidae equidae is offline
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Mares are not horses

This comes from a pretty old thread, but brings up one of my favorite bits of trivia. In,

http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_097b.html

Cecil states, with regard to a gender-neutral term for cattle:

"You got your cows (girl bovine mammals), you got your bulls (boy bovine mammals), you got your cattle (plural you-know-whats), but no generic singular term like "horse" or "sheep.""

Actually, "horse" is not gender-neutral at all, but rather refers specifically to an uncastrated male equine. Anyone who's read a racing program will be aware of this, as "h", for horse (of course!), denotes an intact male entrant. So where does that leave us for a gender neutral term for large animals that go "neigh"?
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  #2  
Old 12-09-2007, 10:18 PM
askeptic askeptic is offline
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From MW: Horse-1 a (1): a large solid-hoofed herbivorous ungulate mammal (Equus caballus, family Equidae, the horse family) domesticated since prehistoric times and used as a beast of burden, a draft animal, or for riding.

Looks gender neutral to me. Besides, even in racing they refer to a "horse race" even when all the animals running in a given race may in fact be female.
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  #3  
Old 12-09-2007, 10:22 PM
Hilarity N. Suze Hilarity N. Suze is offline
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Well I don't know. I've made the distinction between a "horse colt" and a "filly." But usually, I would say mostly, when I've gone out to ride my horse, I've said I was going out to ride my horse, and FWIW the horses I've gone out to ride have been overwhelmingly female. But I never would have said "I'm going out to ride my mare" or "Hey, I'm off to go feed the mare, now."

If we're gonna rant about misuse of words, let's do "podium," okay? It's the raised platform the band director stands on. Not the thing the speaker stands behind. (Although it's getting there, what with everybody misusing the word.) The term for the thing the speaker stands behind, with the light and the little book holder, is a lectern.

Last edited by Hilarity N. Suze; 12-09-2007 at 10:24 PM..
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  #4  
Old 12-10-2007, 06:30 AM
Martian Bigfoot Martian Bigfoot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilarity N. Suze
If we're gonna rant about misuse of words, let's do "podium," okay? It's the raised platform the band director stands on. Not the thing the speaker stands behind. (Although it's getting there, what with everybody misusing the word.) The term for the thing the speaker stands behind, with the light and the little book holder, is a lectern.
[continuing hijack]

Yes, when it's not a rostrum. Of course, a rostrum is actually this (a bow on a ship). Of course, that's called a rostrum only because it looks like a bit like an actual rostrum, which is this.

Then again, since an orchestra is actually this , and a scene is this , then what the heck.

[/continuing hijack]
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  #5  
Old 12-10-2007, 12:10 PM
coffinjumper coffinjumper is offline
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To hijack you hijack. Skene, not scene. Skene (ski-nii) is kind of the equivalent on the stage house in Elizabethan theatre. It's a permanent back drop with entrances and exits which was also used as a storage and dressing space, again, like Elizabethan stage houses or Spanish Golden Age tiring houses.
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  #6  
Old 12-10-2007, 12:13 PM
coffinjumper coffinjumper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coffinjumper
To hijack you hijack. Skene, not scene. Skene (ski-nii) is kind of the equivalent on the stage house in Elizabethan theatre. It's a permanent back drop with entrances and exits which was also used as a storage and dressing space, again, like Elizabethan stage houses or Spanish Golden Age tiring houses.
That should be "your hijack" and I forgot to click the quote button in the quick reply, but I was responding to this

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peak Banana
[continuing hijack]

....Then again, since an orchestra is actually this , and a scene is this , then what the heck.

[/continuing hijack]
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  #7  
Old 12-09-2007, 10:29 PM
askeptic askeptic is offline
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Again, Merriam Webster disagrees.
Podium-
2 a: a dais especially for an orchestral conductor b: lectern

Looks like a synonym to me.
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  #8  
Old 12-09-2007, 10:51 PM
DSYoungEsq DSYoungEsq is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by askeptic
Again, Merriam Webster disagrees.
Podium-
2 a: a dais especially for an orchestral conductor b: lectern

Looks like a synonym to me.
It wasn't, originally. It has morphed into one through originally incorrect usage.
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  #9  
Old 12-09-2007, 11:01 PM
askeptic askeptic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSYoungEsq
It wasn't, originally. It has morphed into one through originally incorrect usage.
Well then complaining about it now is a bit like closing the barn door after the horse gets out isn't? Lots of words have meaning different from their "original" meaning. And you use the phrase "incorrect usage" like a prescriptivist. Is it time for the prescriptivist /descriptivist shouting match in the Pit?
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  #10  
Old 12-10-2007, 06:49 AM
DSYoungEsq DSYoungEsq is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by askeptic
Well then complaining about it now is a bit like closing the barn door after the horse gets out isn't? Lots of words have meaning different from their "original" meaning. And you use the phrase "incorrect usage" like a prescriptivist. Is it time for the prescriptivist /descriptivist shouting match in the Pit?
I am not using "incorrect" usage in a prescriptivist sense. You will, I presume, concede that if I were to use the word "horse" and point to a member of an ovine species, that I would be using the word "incorrectly?" After all, a language is a language only when there is enough commonality of meaning in usage to allow for communication.

Thus, initially the idea of a lectern and a podium as having separate meanings wasn't prescriptivist, it simply acknowledged that each was a different item, and each had its own name (otherwise, they would both be called the same thing, and the need for two words would not exist). Over time, people began to mis-apply the one word for the other thing, based upon a mistaken understanding as to what the meaning of the word in question was. Do that often enough, and the word acquires a new meaning: this is hardly a prescriptivist point of view, because the prescriptivists would be stamping their feet and loudly declaring the new meaning wasn't "right."
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  #11  
Old 12-09-2007, 10:39 PM
equidae equidae is offline
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I always thought the difference was that a podium has a microphone attached while a lectern doesn't...

Getting back to the horse vs. mare bit, it's more an amusing bit of trivia to me than a pet peave about incorrect usage. The fact is, "horse" is in common usage as a gender neutral term for an equine in an even more culturally-ingrained way than the common usage of "cow" to refer to cattle of either sex. And yes, if I were going out to ride my horse, I'd likely say it just like that, unless I owned both a mare and a stallion and wanted to be clear I was going out to ride the mare. Actually, I'd more likely call her by name!
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  #12  
Old 12-09-2007, 11:07 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by equidae
I always thought the difference was that a podium has a microphone attached while a lectern doesn't...
Okay, if you need help paying the membership fee I'll help you. Snotty over-intellectualizing at the expense of current usage is a terrible thing to waste and is the sign of a worthy new member. I try to support my peeps.

(FTR, I'm banking on equidae's membership in the Horsey Set to mean I don't actually have to pay off but he/she should email me if needed because the offer stands.)
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  #13  
Old 12-10-2007, 12:54 AM
Chez Guevara Chez Guevara is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by equidae
Anyone who's read a racing program will be aware of this, as "h", for horse (of course!), denotes an intact male entrant.
Nitpick:

H for horse denotes an intact male entrant aged 5 years and older. At 4 years and under it's c for colt. Similarly a female entrant is f for filly until it reaches the age of 5 when it becomes m for mare.
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  #14  
Old 12-10-2007, 01:00 AM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
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So "horse" is like "ship" then? We live and learn.

(A "ship" has three masts, all square-rigged. However, don't be surprised if footage of a "tall ships" race shows you barques, barquentines, brigs, brigantines and schooners as well.)
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  #15  
Old 12-10-2007, 02:13 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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OK, so what word do you use when you have mixed group of colts, fillies, mares, stallions, and horses?

How about a mixed group of ships, barques, barquentines, brigs, brigantines, and schooners?
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  #16  
Old 12-10-2007, 04:17 AM
Zoe Zoe is offline
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Quote:
Derleth: OK, so what word do you use when you have mixed group of colts, fillies, mares, stallions, and horses?
First Monday


Webster's says that mares are female horses. (Of course it's a horse...) Do you really want to make the guy who originated the racing form the authority on this subject? Unless there is cross-breeding going on, a horse gives birth to a horse, right?

Now...about that woman who was the "Men's Grand Master Chess Champion" several years ago...That one was a double whammy.
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  #17  
Old 12-10-2007, 09:49 AM
glee glee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoe
Now...about that woman who was the "Men's Grand Master Chess Champion" several years ago...That one was a double whammy.
You're probably referring to Judit Polgar (one of the talented Polgar sisters).

First, 'Chess Champion' doesn't mean anything in particular. If you win your school chess tournament, you can rightly call yourself 'School Chess Champion'.

Next there are 3 international playing titles awarded by the World Chess Federation (FIDE). In ascending order of merit, they are:

- FIDE Master (FM)
- International Master (IM)
- Grandmaster (GM)

Since far less women play chess than men (shame!), FIDE decided to 'encourage' women by giving 2 extra titles:

- Woman International Master (WIM, roughly equivalent to FIDE Master)
- Woman Grand Master (WGM, roughly equivalent to International Master)

This meant that some people started using men's GM to distinguish from woman GM.

The correct way to say it is that Judit Polgar is a Grandmaster.
N.B. She is currently ranked 20th in the World.
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  #18  
Old 12-10-2007, 10:20 AM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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Well, the issue has been sliced, diced, and led astray into very interesting tangents. (You can lead a horse astray, but you can't make a mare a cock.) With all that nailed down, here's another little question:

Is this hodgepodge a "mare's nest," or do we go to the gender neutral "horse's nest"?
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  #19  
Old 12-10-2007, 10:29 AM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glee
far less women play chess than men... (
"Fewer". Although "less" is justifiable, given that (barring Judit Polgar) the standard is way lower. For example, Vera Menchik dominated women's chess for years, but at the Carlsbad tournament of 1929 she finished last by a long way.

(Though I personally was once horribly beaten by a slip of a girl in a club match.)
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  #20  
Old 12-10-2007, 10:06 AM
EddyTeddyFreddy EddyTeddyFreddy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derleth
OK, so what word do you use when you have mixed group of colts, fillies, mares, stallions, and horses?
A herd. Your final term, "horses", comprises the four subsets that precede it.

Chez Guevara, am I correct that g is used in racing forms to indicate a gelding?
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  #21  
Old 12-13-2007, 04:18 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EddyTeddyFreddy
Your final term, "horses", comprises the four subsets that precede it.
No, it doesn't. Read what I was replying to.
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  #22  
Old 12-13-2007, 08:59 AM
EddyTeddyFreddy EddyTeddyFreddy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derleth
No, it doesn't. Read what I was replying to.
I did read it. I'm still correct. Fillies, colts, mares and stallions are all horses. A horse is either a colt, filly, mare, stallion, or gelding. Thus the collective word is "horses" and in a group they are a "herd".

And a mixed group of brigs, brigantines, destroyers, aircraft carriers, etc. would be collectively referred to as "ships" or a "fleet" because that is the generic name for them, even though when speaking of an individual ship one would more correctly use the particular appellation for it.

Herd of horses, fleet of ships.
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  #23  
Old 12-10-2007, 06:34 AM
Princhester Princhester is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malacandra
So "horse" is like "ship" then? We live and learn.

(A "ship" has three masts, all square-rigged. However, don't be surprised if footage of a "tall ships" race shows you barques, barquentines, brigs, brigantines and schooners as well.)
I ran a case a few years back in which it would have saved my client about half a million dollars if we could have viably argued that a ship was as you say and therefore legislation which used that word didn't cover our opponent's modern vessel. I raised this point a few times with my partners and counsel (admittedly with a smile on my face) and they just laughed. This served to confirm what I'd basically already decided: not an argument even worth raising. Actually we did raise it in court, but only as a joke. And we got a chuckle out of 'is Honour, an all.
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  #24  
Old 12-10-2007, 07:38 AM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Princhester
I ran a case a few years back in which it would have saved my client about half a million dollars if we could have viably argued that a ship was as you say and therefore legislation which used that word didn't cover our opponent's modern vessel. I raised this point a few times with my partners and counsel (admittedly with a smile on my face) and they just laughed. This served to confirm what I'd basically already decided: not an argument even worth raising. Actually we did raise it in court, but only as a joke. And we got a chuckle out of 'is Honour, an all.
Well, that's a horse of another colour.
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  #25  
Old 12-10-2007, 05:15 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Isn't this just a case of different usage in different fields? It's not all that surprising that words have precise meanings when used by people in direct connection with their business (in this case, horse racing), and also have very common different, or broader meanings outside of that field.

I expect 'Dog' is the same. Don't dog-show people not use that term only to refer to a male?
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  #26  
Old 12-10-2007, 07:38 AM
vetbridge vetbridge is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
Isn't this just a case of different usage in different fields?
Exactly.
An even more interesting example (to me) is in the ostrich business. Eight or ten years ago when the Pennsylvania ostrich boom happened (lasting about a year) there was all sorts of confusion with regard to terminology.

Male birds are, in general, called "cocks". Ostrich were being farmed largely by "gentlemen farmers" with money to invest but little farming background. Embarrassed by talk of their cocks ("I've got a huge cock for sale") these folks borrowed the term "rooster" from the chicken crowd. Almost overnight, rooster became the accepted term for a male ostrich in my area.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
I expect 'Dog' is the same. Don't dog-show people not use that term only to refer to a male?
Yep. And the OP's observation is AFAIK restricted to the racing set.
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  #27  
Old 12-10-2007, 06:40 AM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
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Here's what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say
Quote:
Like several other names of animals (sheep, swine, neat, deer) this was originally neuter, applicable to the male and female alike. ... the tendency to restrict the name to the male came later.
Their first citation for neuter definition of horse (as opposed to mule) is from AD 825. The first for the male definition (as opposed to mare) is from 1485. The neuter definition has never really fallen out of favor but rather exists side-by-side with the male definition.
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  #28  
Old 12-10-2007, 07:37 AM
Ruken Ruken is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bibliophage
Here's what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say Their first citation for neuter definition of horse (as opposed to mule) is from AD 825. The first for the male definition (as opposed to mare) is from 1485. The neuter definition has never really fallen out of favor but rather exists side-by-side with the male definition.
So "horse" was gender neutral before English even existed, and male-only quite some time after. Looks like even the arch-prescriptivists can still feel safe calling a horse a horse (of course).
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  #29  
Old 12-10-2007, 10:06 AM
OtakuLoki OtakuLoki is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bibliophage
Here's what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say Their first citation for neuter definition of horse (as opposed to mule) is from AD 825. The first for the male definition (as opposed to mare) is from 1485. The neuter definition has never really fallen out of favor but rather exists side-by-side with the male definition.

Continuing the hijack:

What I'd like to know is how the blazes you can talk about mules without discussing their parent stock, and the fact that they are not the same species as either of their parent stocks? And, if mule is that old, how old is hinny? Or is hinny a more recent word, and for a while mule was a gender neutral term, too?


(For those not aware of it, a hinny is the female analogue of a mule.)
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  #30  
Old 12-10-2007, 11:27 AM
Yllaria Yllaria is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OtakuLoki
Continuing the hijack:

What I'd like to know is how the blazes you can talk about mules without discussing their parent stock, and the fact that they are not the same species as either of their parent stocks? And, if mule is that old, how old is hinny? Or is hinny a more recent word, and for a while mule was a gender neutral term, too?


(For those not aware of it, a hinny is the female analogue of a mule.)
I had to double check this. A hinny is not a female mule. Hinny and mule are both gender neutral terms. The difference is the breeding.

A hinny is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. A mules is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Hinnies tend to be smaller, possibly as a result of the smaller animal doing the gestating.

As an aside, it looks like (Wikipedia) a female mule is called a molly and a male is called a jack. On the internet, it looks like the standard is male hinny and female hinny. If the naming convention reverts to the donkey side of the family, it would devolve to jack and jenny.

Just to be pedantic - which fite this thread so well.

Last edited by Yllaria; 12-10-2007 at 11:29 AM.. Reason: to add - according to the dictionary - mule is also applied to any sterile hybid. So it's a very generic term.
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  #31  
Old 12-10-2007, 12:36 PM
OtakuLoki OtakuLoki is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yllaria
I had to double check this. A hinny is not a female mule. Hinny and mule are both gender neutral terms. The difference is the breeding.

A hinny is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. A mules is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Hinnies tend to be smaller, possibly as a result of the smaller animal doing the gestating.

As an aside, it looks like (Wikipedia) a female mule is called a molly and a male is called a jack. On the internet, it looks like the standard is male hinny and female hinny. If the naming convention reverts to the donkey side of the family, it would devolve to jack and jenny.

Just to be pedantic - which fite this thread so well.

Very cool, thanks. For some reason I'd been operating under the impression that a mule was always male and hinny was always female. Since both occur via breeding across species lines, I figured it was just something hinky in the biology that made it impossible to have a female mule, or a male hinny.


Which now that I look at that assumption again, is really silly.
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  #32  
Old 12-10-2007, 06:44 AM
DSYoungEsq DSYoungEsq is offline
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Besides, isn't there a perfectly good word for an uncastrated male horse besides "horse?" I was under the impression that stallion fits that bill.
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  #33  
Old 12-10-2007, 07:40 AM
vetbridge vetbridge is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSYoungEsq
Besides, isn't there a perfectly good word for an uncastrated male horse besides "horse?" I was under the impression that stallion fits that bill.
While I have no cite, I believe "stallion" is not used by the racing crowd due to perceived negatives of the term (a high strung, dangerous animal).
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  #34  
Old 12-10-2007, 07:48 AM
Chez Guevara Chez Guevara is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSYoungEsq
Besides, isn't there a perfectly good word for an uncastrated male horse besides "horse?" I was under the impression that stallion fits that bill.
As mangetout proposes, it's a case of usage varying with the sphere of interest.

In horse racing stallions do not race. The appellation is reserved for male horses kept for breeding purposes. However if a stallion fails at stud it may return to the track, in which case it becomes a horse again, unless it is under five years old, in which case it goes back to being a colt.

The term 'mare' is used in both racing and breeding to describe a female horse over the age of four. Of course, when a breeding mare foals she becomes a dam to the foal while remaining a mare in every other sense.

Geldings aren't much interested in breeding.
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  #35  
Old 12-10-2007, 08:57 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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There's a hierarchy in language that might help in threads like this.

Grammar hardly ever changes. Violate grammar and you're almost certainly wrong.

Spelling is iffy. Some spelling mistakes become enshrined, most don't. (Putting "apostrophe's" in when not needed is grammar, not spelling, which is why it irritates so many people when they see it.)

Pronunciation is slippery. There is no received standard American dialect, so most words have several different and distinct variations. When it does change it changes rapidly.

Meaning is pretty much by definition guided by actual use. If people use a word in a certain way long enough, that's what the word means. Some fight this, but it's futile.

Lectern and podium now have the same meaning. Try spelling them lecturn and podiem, though, and see where that gets you.
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  #36  
Old 12-13-2007, 09:31 AM
Pleonast Pleonast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase
Putting "apostrophe's" in when not needed is grammar, not spelling, which is why it irritates so many people when they see it.
Can you back this up with anything? Choosing how a word is represented when written seems like spelling to me.
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  #37  
Old 12-14-2007, 11:17 AM
matt_mcl matt_mcl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pleonast
Can you back this up with anything? Choosing how a word is represented when written seems like spelling to me.
It's grammar in the sense that it encodes functional information: the distinction between "persons", "person's", and "persons' " is a grammatical one, the same way as writing "person" when you meant "persons" is a grammatical error rather than a spelling error. Writing "parson" when you meant "person" is a spelling error. (Any of the above, of course, might be a typographical error.)
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  #38  
Old 12-10-2007, 10:16 AM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chez Guevara
The term 'mare' is used in both racing and breeding to describe a female horse over the age of four. Of course, when a breeding mare foals she becomes a dam to the foal while remaining a mare in every other sense.
By continuing to eat oats, primarily.
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  #39  
Old 12-10-2007, 10:21 AM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
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Originally Posted by Cervaise
By continuing to eat oats, primarily.
Yes, she does.
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