What is the difference between "piss" and "urine"?
Technically, they are two different words for the same substance. But we all know which is proper and which improper, which to use in polite company or in formal college papers, and which to use in the locker room. Why? Does the fact that doctors prefer "urine" make it acceptable? If so, what caused the doctors or whomever to choose the two-syllable word-sound over the one-syllable word-sound? How do such word choices get made?
The answer is "history."
When William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, he brought with him a French-speaking aristocracy, imposed on the local Anglo-Saxon population a French ruling class, and created in the process a two-tier social order in which the rulers spoke a Latinate or Romance language and the vulgar peasants spoke their native Anglo-Saxon tongue. Hence, the use of Latin came to signify a member of the aristocracy, and the use of four-letter Anglo-Saxon words came to signify a peasant. In Mark Twain A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Morgan le Fay has a musician executed because he praised her beautiful "red" hair. For persons of a certain social rank, explained Twain, the word for that color is "auburn." By calling her hair "red," the unfortunate musician was implying that Morgan le Fay was an Anglo- Saxon peasant. By putting this distinction in Arthurian England,