[Ads-l] Minced profanity or folk idiom? - follow-up

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue Feb 2 16:12:16 EST 2021


Skipping over the egg-sucking bit --
It appears that there is a traditional joke about deciding the number of
cows in a field by counting the legs and dividing by four.  I have a very
faint memory of reading the joke, applied to counting sheep.

There seems also to be a more complicated form of the problem used to teach
children math.  (Never used to teach me math, but I went to
a very backwards school.)

The farmer counts all the cow and chicken legs. ***  This task requires
students to add, combine or count on numbers and to have number sense to 52.

One day he counts 76 legs and 24 heads. How many cows and how many chickens
are on the farm? write a system of equations and solve.

Meanwhile, the governor seems to mean "let's not waste time" -- is that
sense documented elsewhere?

GAT


On Tue, Feb 2, 2021 at 1:13 PM Nancy Friedman <wordworking at gmail.com> wrote:

> Five minutes after I posed my question, I saw that Language Log had already
> addressed it:
>
>
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>
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-- 
George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998.

But when aroused at the Trump of Doom / Ye shall start, bold kings, from
your lowly tomb. . .
L. H. Sigourney, "Burial of Mazeen", Poems.  Boston, 1827, p. 112

The Trump of Doom -- also known as The Dunghill Toadstool.  (Here's a
picture of his great-grandfather.)
http://www.parliament.uk/worksofart/artwork/james-gillray/an-excrescence---a-fungus-alias-a-toadstool-upon-a-dunghill/3851

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