Date: Thu, 19 May 1994 14:37:31 -0700

From: David Prager Branner charmii[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]U.WASHINGTON.EDU

Subject: Spring chicken

Many people have suggested "pullet" for 'young "virgin" hen',

which is not exactly the word I had in mind. A hen can be a pullet even

after she begins laying; I am looking for a word meaning a hen that has

not yet begun brooding.

There is a Chinese word for this that is very important in

dialectology, but I have never found a way to express it in English except

with a long explanation. Chinese value this kind of bird because it is

extremely tasty - actually, I have never eaten this kind of meat in the

United States, only in China. My informants there say that it is not the

laying of eggs but brooding that causes the taste of the meat to change.

Since "spring chickens" are famous in the West for their fine taste (which

I have never sampled, to my sorrow), it seemed to me that this might be a

closer word than "pullet". But a spring chicken can be male, too, can't


How about a word for a "virgin" sow? Is there such a word in

English? It is faily common in the Hakka areas of Fwujiann.

David Prager Branner

Asian Languages and Literature

University of Washington, DO-21

Seattle, WA 98195