? ? ? Re: ? ? ? keep a cow

James C Stalker stalker at MSU.EDU
Mon Apr 25 00:44:57 UTC 2005

The terminology, base, underlying, precursor, whatever, is not the point.
The point I was trying to make is that these seem to be euphemisms, like gee
whiz, golly gee, cheese and crackers, gosh darn, etc.  Whether the
non-euphemistic form was present in the speakers mind is immaterial.  Some
speakers could have known that they were uttering a eupemism, others not.
At some point, I would guess, such phrases have a life of their own; they
cease to be euphemisms, at least for most speakers.  I was merely trying to
address the "vague familiarity" that some posters expressed.


RonButters at AOL.COM writes:

> In a message dated 4/23/05 8:17:13 PM, stalker at MSU.EDU writes:
>> Further thought.  Perhaps the base form is "go fuck yourself."  By
>> extension, "go fuck a cow," which I'm sure your dad would never have said or
>> even have thought of, so the "go + (do) + absurd action" is a euphemistic
>> substitute.  Opens up lots of creative options.  Maybe?
>> Jim
> What does "base form" mean in this context? If "dad" never would have said
> it, does that mean that he would have thought it? Or is there a historical
> premise here--that people would have first said, "go fuck yourself" and THEN
> thought of things like "Go fly a kite?" Or both?
> Neither hypothesis seems plausible to me. In whichb case the notion "base
> form" seems vacuous, having no psychological, social, or historical reality.
> In a message dated 4/23/05 8:12:08 PM, stalker at MSU.EDU writes:
>> Like Ron, the "go keep a cow" sounded vaguely familiar.  "Go chase
>> yourself"
>> sounded as if I had really heard it.  I did a google search on "go chase
>> yourself."  You should try it.  There is a Lucille Ball movie with that
>> name.  I found a Dutch poem in English which uses the phrase, and a UK site
>> that equates it to "go fly a kite," one that I think most of us would more
>> likely reccognize, as well a "take a long walk off a short pier," "take a
>> flying leap," etc..  An interesting one is "go to grass and eat hay." Maybe
>> that's where the cow is useful.
>> Jim
> One of the more creative insults that I can remember from the 1950s along the
> lilnes off "Take a flying leap" was "Take a flying fuck at a rolling donut."
> This only make sense, I guess, if said to men.

James C. Stalker
Department of English
Michigan State University

More information about the Ads-l mailing list