Idiom question

Peter Richardson prichard at LINFIELD.EDU
Mon Jan 24 19:12:38 UTC 2000

On Fri, 21 Jan 2000, A. Vine wrote:
> I don't think that is the "problem".  The term "cow" is the generic term for the
> animal, regardless of sexual status.  If you say "heifer", you're only talking
> about a female cow.  If you say "bull" or "steer", you're only talking about a
> male cow (with a difference in sterility).  But if you say "cow", you're not
> specifying the sex.

Here I go agreeing wih Andrea again, and I'll wager that I'm the one of us
two who grew up in a dairy community. Maybe the Grand Cow Controversy is
similar to the Romans' assignment of "common" gender to words like _senes_
'old person' and _coniunx_ 'spouse'. We need a common gender designation,
too. Being overly specific with _cow_ does, it's true, enable one to talk
about the various bovines in their procreative capacity, but as a generic
term _cow_ seems to work just fine.

"Slap leather, cowboy!"
"I ain't no dirt-eatin' cowboy, stranger. I'm a bull-boy! Cowboy's a
fightin' word!"
"Oh, yeah, dust brain? I'll bet you're nothin' but a heifer-boy, you
lily-livered skunk!"
"Why, you...I oughta shove that pistol of yours up your nose,
calf-boy, you."
"Well, actually, my good man, I'm more of a steer-boy, having majored in
agricultural economics and castration technology at A & M some years back.
My interests have always gravitated toward the male of the bovine
"I repeat: Slap leather, cowboy!"


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