The French "c'est un porc" can have 3 translations in English:
- it is a pig
- this is a pig
- he is a pig -> note that applied to a "dirty person", the French also say "c'est un cochon".
When it comes to "pork", since it is the meat and not the animal on its legs, both sentences should be different:
- it/this is pork = c'est DU porc
On principle, "cochon" is pig and "porc" is pork, ie living animal and meat respectively.
So, if you read about "un élevage de porcs", chances are they will finish their life as sausages or ham, etc.
"The Three Pigs" are indeed lively animals (but the wold does not care what they are called!)
However, if you call someone "un cochon" (dirty), it may be a less serious insult than "un porc" (dirty and much worse).
In many cases porc and cochon can be used interchangeably.
Check out this link to The great pig debate
However, as Sitesurf has pointed out:
- It/this is pork = C'est du porc.
- It is a pig = C'est un porc / cochon."
Do you see the difference that either du or un make ?
du = some
un = a
I agree with you. I say "It's pork" and got it wrong. Bleh. And I'll have to check with my French friends to see if you can use 'porc' to refer to a pig, but definitely in English you cannot say 'pork' and expect someone to understand that you mean the living breathing animal 'pig'. pokes empty heart container :(
I think the problem is that as a native english speaker despite the un in the question I naturally wrote what made sense to me. If this had been in the animal section and not the food section I would not have had a problem with writing 'a pig' but then I would have expected couchon not porc.
Sitesurf I think your explanation has confused me slightly. Do the French also use the word porc to describe the animal and not just the meat?
porc is the more generic term.
If it's domesticated, it's more often referred to as cochon,
and if it's wild, it's a sanglier, according to the dictionary source Larousse.
They are interchangeable whether referring to a live animal or meat.
However if the article preceding either porc / cochon / sanglier is du ( which means some ), then it is referring to meat.
If the article preceding either porc / cochon / sanglier is un ( which means a ), then it is referring to a whole animal.