International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems


Michael W. Fox


A cross-cultural linguistic analysis of terminology related to various forms of animal exploitation might give considerable insight into how professional and vested interest groups perceive and value animals and how sensitive they are about what they do. Dairy cattle, breeding sows, and laying hens have been called "production units" and "biomachines." These examples show how language can be laundered to assuage guilt, gain public respectability, or avoid public ridicule. There are myriad other examples. Unwanted cats and dogs are "put to sleep," rather than killed; surplus pets are euthanized (which means mercy killing) rather than depopulated. Seals, deer, and other wildlife are "harvested" (as if they were apples) rather than slaughtered.