Date: Thu, 19 May 1994 16:21:54 -0700
From: "Joseph B. Monda" monda[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]SEATTLEU.EDU
Subject: Re: Spring chicken
AS I recall my poultry days, a hen can lay eggs without their being
fertile. And I don't know whether a pullet will breed without having
been bred to a cock. It was my impression that a brooding hen is a
setting hen, or one that wished to be such. But this goes back to my
boyhood on the farm, and what did I know about life then.
I know nothing --fortunately-- about virgin sows, but I think there is a
word for an unbred female pig: "gilt."
On Thu, 19 May 1994, David Prager Branner wrote:
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
charmii[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]u.washington.edu