Language is funny sometimes, especially the English language. Not only is English an incredibly difficult language to learn but there are so many different words for the same thing depending on where you are. For instance, In America it is a truck. In England it is a lorry. In America, you’re a guy. In England you’re a chap. In Australia, you’re a bloke.
English is a language that has seen many transitions especially over the course of the past one thousand years or so. The language, however, went through an amazingly fast evolution in the late 900’s and early 1000’s as England began to stretch itself toward empire and the Normans of northern France conquering England in 1066.
Seems like politics back then was mostly family infighting as all of Europe’s “royalty” were related to one another in one way or another. It all started in 1042 when England crowned a guy named Edward the Confessor as king of England. His uncle, however, ran the French Dutchy of Normandy. His name was Richard II. They got along well and Edward had many Normans appointed to high positions in the British food chain. In 1066, however, Edward died. He was without an heir so the throne of England was up for grabs.
The current Duke of Normandy, William, claimed that Edward promised to make him king upon his death. Low and behold but the British aristocracy chose someone else to be king in 1066. William, very much displeased, assembles his army and sails off to England to take by force what he thinks belongs to him.
The Normans end up winning the decisive Battle of Hastings in 1066 and William becomes king. Needless to say, he became William the Conqueror. The aristocracy of England had their wealth and land stolen by the French Normans and the English pretty much became the Normans’ peasant/slave labor force.
So, what does all this have to do with cows and pigs? Well, seems that the Anglo’s were made to tend to the livestock for the new Norman gentry. To them, a cow was a cow and a pig was a pig. When their was a big dinner or lavish affair going on, the Anglo serfs were made to tend to the livestock and then deliver it to the kitchens where the Norman cooks and chefs took over planning and serving the meal.
During the reign of William the Conqueror, traditions and language became somewhat mixed as English began to evolve further. For the Norman chefs, the word for cow was pronounced “beuf” which ended up becoming “beef” and pig was generally pronounced as “pauk” which evolved into the present “pork”.