The symbolisms of the pig

Today is the lunar New Year, celebrated as the beginning of the Year of the Pig in China, Vietnam, and a number of other places. From Wikipedia:

The Pig (豬) is the twelfth of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. In the continuous sexagenary cycle of sixty years, every twelfth year corresponds to hai, 亥 [’12th earthly branch’ (in astrology)]

And in this PinMart enameled Chinese zodiac pin ( 1″w x 3/4″h):

Text: Pigs are hardworking, kind, and liberal. With their intense concentration and calm demeanor when facing trouble, Pigs will dedicate full energy into reaching their goals.

Not how most Western people would characterize pigs.

Instead we get, as in this Wikipedia article on pigs in (Western) popular culture, stereotypes of gluttony and dirtiness predominating:

Pigs, widely present in world cultures, have taken on many meanings and been used for many purposes in traditional arts, popular culture, and media. As one scholar puts it, people all over the world have made swine stand for “extremes of human joy or fear, celebration, ridicule, and repulsion.”  They have become synonymous with negative attributes, especially greed, gluttony, and uncleanliness, and these ascribed attributes have often led to critical comparisons between pigs and humans.

But In many other cultures (Chinese, Meso-American, and more) pigs are domestic animals valued as a source of food and companionship, and are associated with stereotypes of amiability, intelligence, and hard work.

The porcine English lexicon. The Western stereotypes show up very clearly in the English lexicon, in uses of pig, piggish, piggy, pig out (on), pig it, make a pig of oneself, swine, swinish, pork out (on), and more. And in two snowclonelet composites X pig: a sexual one and a food-enthusiast one. Postings on this blog on the first of these, with a segue into the second (WARNING: references in plain language to sexual practices that some may find distasteful or disturbing: this section is not for kids or the sexually modest):

on 9/30/13, in “Up Your Alley”: about the Dore Alley BDSM fair in San Francisco, offically named Up Your Alley®:

 Note that the Saturday night dance party is called Bay of Pigs — a play on the geographical name, involving pig as a sexual term, in the snowclonelet X pig, denoting someone who’s seriously into X (sex pig, involving sex in general or specifically “dirty sex” of various kinds; dick pigpiss pig) and in the compounds pig play and pig sex, referring to “dirty” sex.

on 9/23/15, in “Mark Mason, Matt Bauer, and Gay Porn Minus Gay Sex”: X pig example tit pig

on 10/19/15, in “Rafe on display”: X pig example fuck pig

on 2/25/17, in “Displaying your nipples”: nipple pig, nippig, titpig; other examples of the sexual X pig snowclonelet

on 9/19/17, in “I like pig butts and I cannot lie”, about sexual X pig:

It starts with figurative uses of pig, which depend on stereotypes about the nature of pigs. From NOAD2, this sense:

informal derogatory  a greedy, dirty, or unpleasant person

From this radiate an assortment of senses of pig, noun and verb, having to do with greed, dirtiness, or unpleasantness. The food-enthusiast snowclonelet food pig develops from the greed theme in the stereotype.

Then specifically on food enthusiasms:

on 2/26/17, in “More piggery”: the food-enthusiast snowclone X pig (ice cream pig and the like) and the bases for it


One Response to “The symbolisms of the pig”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Posted by a friend on Facebook today, this Tibetan version of the New Year greeting, posted here because it’s so handsome:

    (I haven’t been able to identify the source or the artist.)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: