Perhaps to distract myself from thinking too much about the already serious and perhaps soon to be much more serious disease, I sit around wondering why they are calling it the "swine" flu. When is the last time you have heard anybody say, "Well, time to slop those swine." Or: "Boy, did I swine out today!" I mean to ask why the heck "swine" and not the much more common, even mundane "pig." I read somewhere that pig farmers today prefer to be called pig farmers and not swineherds. So why not "pig" flu.
Well, maybe that’s it. "Pig" is just too common. Swine has an archaic sort of ring to it. I think a person might prefer to say, "He sickened and died of the swine flu." That sounds somehow, perhaps because distant, better or more dignified, than he sickened and died of the "pig flu."
I don’t know if this reasoning works though. I think "swine" the much more nasty word. It sounds nasty for one thing, and I personally would rather be called a "pig," if it came to that, than a "swine," especially in light of the nasty phrase "swinish behavior." Right now for example the CEO’s of those corrupt businesses that drove the economy into the hole would be, to my lights, much more justly described disdainfully as "swines" up to their necks in swinish behavior rather than pigs up to their necks in piggy behavior.
The people who sell pigs are upset even by the word swine since some have gotten the idea that the swine flu is caused by eating swine or pig and so have stopped swining out. The pig people want to change the name to the 2009 HINI flu. Like that has a chance in hell of catching on.
Really I don’t know about that claim that pig farmers prefer not to be called swineherds. I don’t get it because, while of course swine might, at one time, have been shepared about like sheep farming pigs isn’t the same thing as herding them. In fact there were swineherds, much like cowboys except with pigs instead of cows, that would herd the pigs from places like upland South Carolina down the dirt roads to Charleston back in the 1700’s.
I can just see it now, "Roll’em, Roll’em, Roll’em, Keep them Swines a Rolling." Must have been quite a sight coming down the road.