By Hugh Rawson
“Man is what he eats,” according to the nineteenth-century German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach – but may not want to know too much about the origin of what’s being eaten.
One of the most common ways of maintaining willful blindness is to translate English words for foods into French ones. In part, this is a tribute to the general admiration for that nation’s culinary expertise. But it also has the great advantage for English-speaking diners of blurring one’s mental image of what is being served up for their consumption.
Take filet mignon, for example. This translates literally as “delicate” or “dainty slice.” In actuality, though, as pointed out by semanticist S. I. Hayakawa, “finest quality filet mignon” is just another way of saying “first-class piece of dead cow.” Which tastes better to you? Read the rest of this entry ?