[DWJ] offtopic dialect question

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Feb 27 06:50:29 EST 2006

>In my experience, (northwestern US) pigtails are shorter, smaller
>versions of ponytails and have nothing to do with braids.
>I'm with Sarah, though I am in northeastern US.  However, some of the
>older folks in this area refer to pigtails as two braids.
>-Jill in Maine

When I think about this, it occurs to me that I haven't ever met a pig with
long, loose hair for a tail.  Tightly plaited hair sticking out sideways a
little just does *look* more like the tail of a pig than hair fastened with
a band near the head and then allowed to hang loose does.

I'm grateful to the list for making me think about this: I am now in the
process of mentally evolving the Tuft-Tailed Hairy Lapp Pig, which seems a
charming creature and one that probably would have long hair like a pony's
for its tail; I have no particular use for such a creature, and it would be
the devil and all to groom, but I am getting rather fond of it.  Any
suggestions about colour?  I don't think it's black like a Vietnamese pig.
It does have a tip-tilted snout, though, as the Chinese and Vietnamese pigs
tend to.  Says "runk" rather than "oink", lives indoors by choice and is
fully housetrained from birth or a very short time afterwards.  Likes being
stroked or combed, and gruntles continuously when this is done.  Too large
to be a comfortable lap-pig, so no puns on the name are appropriate.

Erm... back onto the original question!

Just to complicate things a bit, the 1933 S.O.D. doesn't allow of more than
one pigtail on an individual, giving the definition as "(1688) a plait or
queue of hair hanging down from the back of the head, applied /spec./ to
that worn formerly by soldiers and sailors, and still occasionally by young
girls, and now /esp./ to that customary among the Chinese (1753)".  (A
"queue" is "a long plait of hair hanging down behind".)  So having more
than one pigtail would be a bit strange by their standards, and what they
would make of one of those beautiful Negro many-tiny-plait hairstyles I
can't begin to imagine.


"It was possible this man was a mercenary soldier.  His clothes did look
like the broken-down remains of some kind of uniform, and he wore his hair
in a single pigtail down his back in the way the Sultan's men did.  This
was a fashion the men of Zanzib found quite disgusting, for it was rumoured
that the pigtail was never undone or washed."  (*Castle in the Air* Chapter

Sounds like plaited hair to me....  Yuck!


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