four-footed males, females, and children

Doug Harris cats22 at STNY.RR.COM
Wed Dec 10 00:16:28 UTC 2008

All of which completely ignores the Science Channel's occasional reports about two-headed this or thats. Last night it was a two-headed snake, and two-faced pigs and kittens. Plus a 'cyclops' pig.

----- Original message ----------------------------------------
From: "Wilson Gray" <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
Received: 12/9/2008 6:33:36 PM
Subject: Re: four-footed males, females, and children

>Once upon a time, people who had cattle as well as hat said, "a / one
>head of beef cattle." But this was already dying out among those
>unconcerned with this particular form of agribusiness at least as far
>back as 1972. Calvert Watkins was unable to persuade most members of
>his Intro Hittitie class at the LSA Summer Institute at UNC that there
>was any reason to translate a recurring collocation of graphs as, e.g.
>"ten head of cattle" as opposed to the simpler and at least as
>transparent "ten cattle." Would one say, "ten head of sheep"? Of
>course. Hence, it would be incorrect to say, "ten sheep." Not at all.
>The defense rests.

>Remember when milk trucks were drawn by horses wearing rubber shoes,
>so as not to annoy the still-sleeping 'hood with the clip-clop of
>regular shoes? When the milkman got out of the truck with a case of
>deliveries, the horse fired itself up and strode to the next stop.
>After making his last delivery, the milkman merely walked to the curb,
>where his "carriage" awaited him, left the empty case, and picked up a
>full one.

>Somehow, motor-driven trucks were never able to learn to do this,
>forcing the milkman to walk half a block or so back to dead machinery.

>All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
>come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>-Mark Twain

>On Tue, Dec 9, 2008 at 4:07 PM, Mark Mandel <thnidu at> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Mark Mandel <thnidu at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      Re: four-footed males, females, and children
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> On Tue, Dec 9, 2008 at 3:59 PM, Ann Burlingham <ann at>
>>> On Mon, Dec 8, 2008 at 10:23 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
>>>> I have to say, Mark said it more clearly in fewer words:
>>>>>Or, at least, cow[female] is much
>>>>>better known than dog[male]
>>>> That are the only grounds on which I can excuse Shortz.  (But he has
>>>> exiled dog breeders and cow herders from his clientele.)
>>> I don't know - the use of "cow" to refer to other than female cattle
>>> drives me crazy, and I grew up on a dairy farm (I still live there,
>>> but we don't have dairy cattle any more - someone does raise beef
>>> cattle, though).
>> Is there a singular of "beef cattle"?
>> I'm a lifelong city boy; milk used to come in bottles, and now it
>> comes in cartons. I have both "cow"[female] and "cow"[nonspecific].
>> How do you feel about "goose" and "duck": can they be generic for you,
>> or are they exclusively female (vs. "gander" and "drake")?
>> m a m
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -

>The American Dialect Society -

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