I’m working on the second half of the comics of 2007 book, Finally! And I came across these comics, One Word and Milk. I love these comics, and I like what I said when I posted them, and I reminded myself of Diane Wiessinger’s seminal article, Watch Your Language, and well, here’s a recap. The first of the comics:
and the comments at the time (weren’t they vibrant, and thoughtful, and engaged? Man, I miss blogs in 2007, Facebook certainly killed that spirit;o):
August 18th, 2007 at 3:20 pm
I never really thought about it. I was writing a response to an editorial on the local news about how eliminating formula in gift bags and promoting breastfeeding is somehow going to make people think of bottlefeeding mothers as bad mothers (as though we haven’t been dealing with critics for years!). Anyway, as I was writing, I ran spell check. I had spelled it “breastmilk”, all one word. The email program came back and said it should be “breast milk”, two words. I allowed the correction, not even thinking of it as being demeaning or anything. I don’t really see the difference. Oh, well. As long as my baby is getting the best!
August 18th, 2007 at 3:42 pm
At our house, we call it “Mommymilk”!
And around here, (Lancaster County, PA) tomatoes comes in three sizes- large, huge, and Holy Spaghetti Sauce, Batman! So no one would call that a “small” vegetable!
Just adding some lightness to the topic… thinking seriously, “goat milk” is two words, “soy milk” is two words also. We don’t call milk from cows “cow milk”, I think, because that’s kinda the default source for milk for grown-ups. So, looking at it that way, I suppose “breast milk” would be two words also. However, making it its own word adds to the specialness of it, and I’m all for that!
August 19th, 2007 at 5:00 am ·
I’d prefer that we started saying “cow’s milk” and that all products containing it had to be labeled as such and that “milk” was reserved for milk appropriate to the species drinking it.
I do see where you’re coming from with “breastmilk” as its own entity instead of being merely a descriptor of how the milk is different from so-called “normal” milk. I just feel that it might be too subtle to really register unless you give an explanation such as in the comic. And if you’re going to be giving an explanation anyway, you could just use “milk” and then explain that it’s wrong that cow’s milk has become the “normal” milk instead of the milk that’s actually intended for humans.
That said, I’ll use breastmilk and not breast milk, I just don’t see it as having as much of a language impact as one would hope.
August 19th, 2007 at 5:47 am
August 19th, 2007 at 5:49 am
we also refer to cow milk as cow milk and mommy milk as milk
August 19th, 2007 at 6:05 am
We refer to breastmilk as ‘milk milk’ ….as opposed to soy milk or cow milk (yes we have a range of diets in our house!).
In general, I do just refer to breastmilk as milk, and then identify the others separately…it tends to be obvious, give the context what I’m talking about in any case. Formula, I don’t ever refer to as milk….it might have been lovely nutritious food for calves at one point, but it isn’t any more.
August 19th, 2007 at 7:58 am ·
Interesting. I usually use “breastmilk” when I type… I guess I just thought that was how it was suppose to be. LOL
Also I find it enlightening about the goat milk, soy milk… milk subject. Yo are all right. I usually refer to cows milk as milk and the others as to whatthey come from. Even though we drink loads more goat milk then cows milk. hmmmm
Maybe as a previous poster stated… breastmilk should be MILK and the others should be specified. LOL
Heather in Tucson
August 19th, 2007 at 1:25 pm ·
I guess I don’t see the point of one word versus two. Please, enlighten me!
Each person in my household drinks a different kind of milk, so we do say cow milk, goat milk, almond milk, etc. I don’t see it making a difference whether we say breast milk or breastmilk; it’s still the same great stuff, and the wording won’t change anyone’s opinion.
August 19th, 2007 at 1:25 pm ·
If cow milk is cow milk not uddermilk then perhaps we should be calling this wonderful elixer human milk. Human milk for human babies. Or just milk.
August 19th, 2007 at 3:00 pm ·
Having read all the comments through I have to say the word milk after seeing it so many times has lost all meaning for me milk, milk it just sounds weird now as for what to call the milk we produce yes it should be called either human milk or milk and cows milk should be labeled cows as it is in goats or soy etc i hope this makes sense its late where i am and im tired
August 19th, 2007 at 7:29 pm ·
Well, honestly breastmilk/ breast milk doesn’t bother me, but since we’re being nitpicky – “breastfeeding” does- like the emphasis is that I’m *gasp* using my *breast*! I prefer to just say nursing. No shame, but no emphasis on my breast, which is really beside the point. The point is I’m feeding my baby.
August 20th, 2007 at 1:28 am ·
I’m with Persephone – and maybe that should be your next comic… Nursing vs Breastfeeding. As a young 20s mother, I prefer to say “nursing” around other people.
As for milk, it’s been 13 years since the word breastmilk has been used in my family so milk to us means cow’s milk, and we do love the stuff… we’re going through at least a gallon a day on average. :]
August 20th, 2007 at 7:50 am ·
Since I’ve become “breastfeeding aware” I’ve started to make a point of saying “cow’s milk” instead of “whole milk” or just “milk.” Not all the time – like I don’t say “cow’s milk” at a restaurant because that’s the only kind they have – but definitely when talking about feeding an infant/toddler.
I think as long as we humans consume cow’s milk (or other types of milk besides human) we will not be able to just say “milk” for breastmilk.
I think the comment above about saying something besides “breastfeeding” – like “nursing” – is a good one.
August 21st, 2007 at 5:48 am ·
I sort of missed the (original) point in my first comment. Breastmilk or breast milk? I personally don’t think it makes a bit of difference. In spoken use, no one even knows whether I’m saying it as one word or two, and in written language, it means the same thing either way.
I think I usually write it as all one word, but I reiterate, as a word-obsessed, detail-obsessed, generally obsessive person, I can’t see why having it one way or the other makes any difference at all.
August 22nd, 2007 at 9:30 am ·
I have several thoughts on this – and it is btw a discussion I have had online quite a few times, so people are aware of it.
On the “breast” part of the word: I also generally state that I am nursing vs. breastfeeding. Very rarely I will use the term suckling just for effect lol. To me the focus on “breast” is quite absurd, and as earlier pointed out, we would never say a calf is “udder feeding”. For this same reason, I am a big propenent of saying “mommy milk” (used in my house), “milk” (by default means mommy milk – if I say “do you want some milk” they would be VERY unhappy were I to pour out some soymilk for them LOL even if it were chocolate!) and upon occasion “human milk” (because I like to be clear to other adults – HEY this is milk for HUMANS).
In my home we have soymilk, coconut milk, sometimes rice milk, maybe almond milk soon. As my younger daughter doesn’t tolerate cowmilk well, we don’t keep it in the house, but the older one (4 1/2) knows that Eva can’t have some things because she “can’t have cow milk”, which is definitely the term we use for milk from cows lol. Did I grow up calling it “cow milk”? Not even close – it was a very thought out decision to use this language to make clear what we as a family consider “normal”. Language can be a very powerful thing, and while I certainly don’t expect that other people will start saying “can I have a glass of cowmilk please?”, I know at least that two children will grow up with this as the norm – and there is a good chance that their friends being exposed to it will give them an awareness of the issue that they might otherwise not have. And of course it also opened my own eyes (and those of my husband) by making us realize how easily we accept the terms that the dairy industry would most prefer we use. The fact of the matter is that people in this country very much have issues with sexualizing the breast (more of that media again!) and since that is not likely to change soon, I do believe that using the term “breastfeeding” versus “nursing” can be detrimental. And language being what it is, I do believe that I do exert an influence on my friends (and others) when they hear me say “Oh I’m giving the baby some milk” and see her nursing. They know that *this* is my “norm” – and that I I think it should be *the* norm.