I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that we are all influenced by the names we give to things. Good and evil are obvious examples because the use of the word itself pretty much defines how we are going to think about the situation.
What isn’t so obvious is that our feelings at all times are influenced, sometimes in a subtle way, and often in a great way by the name.
Years ago I read an article about how the fish industry has changed the names of some common fish so that they would become more sellable, and maybe even more palatable to the consumer. What we call Monkfish is known in many places as Headfish. And I really enjoy eating Monkfish, but I’m not so sure about eating Headfish. I also love Orange Roughy, but I think I would gag a little at eating Slimehead, which is its more common name.
What got me on this kick this morning is a “Dogs For Sale” advertisement in our local Newspaper. It would be unfair for me to classify the seller as running a puppy mill because I haven’t been there, but when someone offers you any of a dozen breeds, your “Be Careful” antenna should rise.
It was the breeds listed for sale, however, that caught my interest. They sell Yorkies, Yorkie-poos, Poms, Poodles, Shih Tzus, Shih Poos, Malti-Poos, Bea Bulls, Cav-A-Chons, Pugs, Bostons, Chihuahuas, Puggies, and also AKC registered Bulldogs, Shorkies and Morkies.
I know I’m showing my age, but when I was a kid there were only five or six breed of dogs. No one tried to name the puppies from a short romance between a Collie and a German shepherd as a “Coger or a Sheplie.” And no one ever offered for sale the illegitimate offspring from a Poodle and Cocker Spaniel dalliance as “Poococks.
At that time, we just called them mutts.
Now I know I have probably offended a few million people who love these breeds, and especially those who are petitioning the American Kennel society to recognize Morkies as a legitimate new kind of dog.
But I think you get my point, and that is that the names we call things really effect how they are perceived.
And that leads me to wonder why my mother and father didn’t name me Hercules?