Sheldon Klein (sklein@CS.WISC.EDU)
Thu, 8 Feb 1996 00:12:39 -0600

This may come as a bit of shock to those unfamiliar with technical
terminology prevalent in some domains, including fox hunting:

In the terminology associated with fox-hunting (descriptive report,
no value-judgments about blood sports intended), the generic term
is 'hound'. 'dog' refers to male hounds, and 'bitch' is used for
female hounds. Incorrect usage of the any of these three terms is
one of the marks of an 'outsider' to those knowledgable about the

Accordingly, the comment that 'watchdog' is sexist,
and the counter comment that it is generic, can be
characterized by the following analogies:

A generic use of 'man' for humankind is analogous
to the generic use of 'dog' for hounds--in the domains
where such distinctions are made.

If canines were concerned about such matters they might take offense
at the use of the term 'watchdog'.

(Alas, I have a background in Linguistics, but I hope
Ruby's complaint about such folk does not yet include me.)

Prof. Sheldon Klein

Computer Sciences Dept. Linguistics Dept.
University of Wisconsin 1163 Van Hise
1210 W. Dayton St. University of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin 53706 Madison, Wisconsin 53706