Linguistics 110, Assignment 2
As a result of contact with Norman French, modern English has doublets
like beef (borrowed from French) and cow (inherited from
Germanic). It is often claimed that the meaning of these doublets is
complementary in the sense that the Germanic word refers to the living
animal, whereas the French word refers to the animal's meat.
Using the information available in the OED, investigate
whether this claim is true for the following Norman French loanwords and
their native counterparts. (Hares and rabbits are different species,
but we'll count them as equivalent for the purpose of the exercise.)
Include instances of cow flesh and the like (see the end of the
entries, where compounds are listed) as instances of the Germanic word
referring to the meat.
If the strong claim above can't be maintained, is it possible to defend
a weaker claim - namely, that the Norman French loanwords as a class
were first used to refer to the meat and only later extended to the