Pet names and stereotypes: where to draw the line



On one of the writing sites I am a member of, a person planted the seed of bigotry because I refer to my French husband as, oh the shock and the horror, a FROG!

Bigotry? Puh-lease.

I showed the post to my husband, who laughed. And rightfully so.

Sure, as a general rule calling anybody who is French a frog might be taken as offensive, but first you have to look at the context. I lovingly call my husband ma grenouille, my frog, a pet name inspired by both Disney's The Princess and the Frog and the fact he is French. I also call him mon Shrek, mon Prince Charmante, mon écureuil (squirrel), mon loup (my wolf), mon Yeti (bigfoot or sasquatch), and mon singe (my monkey).

Very romantic, doncha think?

He calls me his little pig. I'm American. What??? Oh. No. He. Didn't. I am not an American PIG!!!

I'm a piglet.

Oink.

Apparently, the French call the English Roti Boeuf -- Roast beef. The Germans are called Krauts, New Zealander's are Kiwis, named not after the fruit but from the bird bearing the same name.

Did I mention I'm English by ancestry? Roast beef? Well, this little piggy has had none. Perhaps, since I'm American, really, you should call me a hot dog. With all the fixins'.

'Cause I'm spicy like that.

Don't burn your lips on the hot peppers.

History lesson. (Don't fall asleep). The French are called frogs because they are rumored to eat frog's legs – a delicacy hard to find and mostly made for, you guessed it, tourists. We certainly don't prepare frog legs in our house. There is also a story (humor me) relating to a banner of Emperor Charlemagne which depicted three toads on it. English and Welsh soldiers mistakenly thought they were frogs, and, well, the name stuck.

To sum up, I'm not calling ALL the French frogs – just my husband, who knows it is a term of endearment and who also knows he's the Kermit to my Ms. Piggy.

He's also the Pépé le Pew to my Penelope...


Coming soon: Why do the French use so many pet names? Like calling your child a flea (ma puce). And what's up with my little cabbage (mon petit chou)?


 

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