Why the “Butter Lamb”?
In essence, a butter lamb is a wad of butter shaped into the form of a lamb. The thing about a butter lamb, though, is that it’s so much more than that. It’s a cultural artifact, a sign of material comfort, a Buffalo, New York tradition and, if you put your faith in Wikipedia, “a traditional butter sculpture accompanying the Easter meal (and a symbol of the Easter season) for many Russian, Slovenian and Polish Catholics.” They’ve even been immortalized on a t-shirt ( … er… the butter lambs, not the Russians, Slovenians, or Poles).
In their own way, butter lambs are also a nice metaphor for the English language. On the surface, the words we speak are merely assemblages of letters that mean one thing as opposed to another. If you’re willing to dig deeper, though, you soon realize that words are so much more than tools to distinguish “A” from “B” or “black” from “white.” Words come in many shades and can thus be used to paint pictures that reflect reality or, as the purveyors of double-speak show, twisted into forms unrecognizable. Their histories tell the stories of their development, and their meanings and usage evolve over time like lifeforms.
It is the aim of this blog to showcase the “butter lambish-ness” (butter lambity?) of our language, be it through personal experiences, excerpts from whatever I’m reading, news articles, and so on. It’s also to have a little wordy fun and spread (pun intended) some love for the words we too often use with too little thought.