Sunday, May 22, 2005

The word you are looking for is "filly."

Instapundit has reminded me of one of the things I love best about the English language: the immense number of specialized terms. In this post, he states:
PHOTO-FOALBLOGGING: Here's my sister's new foal, a lovely female who is, as of yet, un-named. She was born last night without incident, much to my sister's relief.
There is a word which means female foal. That word is filly. A male foal is a colt. I am in the middle of A House for Mr. Biswas. The title character often refers to his mother-in-law as a "Roman cat" or a "queen." A queen means a female cat, of course, in addition to conveying the sense in which Mrs. Tulsi presides over her extended family.

One of the most sad things about modern language is the loss of English words with unique meanings. Friends of mine are familiar with my insistence on differentiating between a lectern and a podium. I am also rather pedantic in my usage of nauseated and nauseous (although according to the usage panel I should say nauseating instead). If there is a perfectly good word that means exactly what you want to say, why muddy the waters by using a more general term that results in a loss of clarity or the addition of superfluous adjectives? English is full of deliciously precise accurate precise words. Use them!
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