Who Determines What A Word Means?

The image is my response to reading about another politician who wants to use the law to change how people use words. Their underlying reasons are to benefit one industry over another, usually the industry that they feel will provide the most votes or donations.

Poor old soya milk (as the world refers to it, regardless of what politicians dictate).

For anyone using text reader software, here's the text from the image:


Words, eh? Politicians with vested interests say the word "milk" should only apply to dairy milk.

The OED's definition 2 of milk as plant-based is over 600 years old. That's authority.

Dairy milk is one type of milk; plant milk another. Simple. Let's just always add a prefix to "milk" to clarify it.
Dairy milk. Oat milk. Coconut milk. Soya milk. Almond milk.
All clear then. Everyone is happy.

Unfortunately we already had a similar persecution in Europe, where they banned calling it soya milk (Council Regulation 1234/2007), which is why it is now labelled "soya drink" on the carton, even though everyone calls it soya milk.


Update, January 2020:

Someone recently criticised Stephen Fry for saying he used oat milk in his coffee. The critical idiot said "oat milk isn't milk".

Stephen Fry responded with "and peanut butter isn't butter, quince cheese isn't cheese, cream of coconut isn't cream ... try as dairy farmers might, history and the nature of language development will decide."

When they complained that you can't "milk an oat", Stephen Fry added:

"If you can milk an audience for applause and if you can milk a topic for discussion for all it's worth, then I reckon you can milk an oat. You can happily carry a meaning across different frames of reference and spheres of activity. The Greek for carrying across is 'metaphor' ..."

Yay to Stephen Fry!

Also file under: Head Cheese, Sweetbreads, Black Pudding, Hot Dog, Sea Cucumber, Rocky Mountain Oysters, Bombay Duck.



Suze said...

That's right, everyone calls it soya milk. It makes me mad when people try to use the law to tell us what we can and can't call things. I should add that I'm not vegan, but do prefer soya milk in my coffee (and almond milk on muesli, ha ha, I probably should try being vegan!).

Karl Drinkwater said...

Excellent, you should give it a go! My diet is way more varied now, since there are many foods I never tried before I went vegan (I'd never heard of tofu or tempeh when I was growing up, for example). There is a lot of support (and recipes) available from organisations like Viva http://www.viva.org.uk and the Vegan Society https://www.vegansociety.com

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