By Dr Birbal Jha
Come to my village Sijoul falling in the Madhubani district of Bihar where you’ll find the milkmen keeping a herd of milch cows for their livelihoods. They have a reason to domesticate cows. They milk their cows twice a day, once in the morning and another in the evening. Thus, these dairy cows are meant to be milked every day till they lactate (secrete milk). Further, they sell milk to others to eke out a living. Next to mother’s milk, cow’s milk is advisable for a child’s growth. However, I’m nobody to offer a piece of advice as I’m not a doctor. I’m just a doctorate in a particular subject, not in medicine or medical practice. To be candid enough to say it!
Remarkably, those from the Hindu community keep a cow and worship her, calling her go-mata. Such is their faith and gratitude. They graze their cows routinely, taking them to the pasture. Cows chew the cud once they return to the barn from the grazing land. Keep in mind that Hindus never eat cow. Here, ‘cow’ has been used to mean beef. Hence, no article like ‘a’ precedes the countable noun cow!
The literal meaning of a cow is the same as what we call gaay in Hindi. However, the figurative meaning is quite interestingly different. In English, it is derogatory if you call a woman a cow to mean she is overweight and unattractive whereas you call someone a gaay in Hindi to mean gullible. Who is that cow who you have begun to like now? This was a sarcastic question to the husband from his wife.
Interestingly, the word ‘cow’ is also used as a verb. For example, I can’t be cowed into submission or silence. I can’t be cowed into doing whatever you want. One reacted to another. To be cowed into (doing) something means to be pressured, shamed, or scared into doing something. Isn’t that linguistically interesting?
English has thousands of idioms that need to be mastered for a clear comprehension. ‘Don’t have a cow!’ I’ll find a solution to the technical glitch we are facing. It is an idiomatic expression meaning ‘don’t get upset’. It won’t be out of place to mention here that with globalization taking place in early 1990, the IT business turned out to be a cash cow meaning a business or investment that generates a large or consistent profit. However, if you say, it was a cow of a day. It means the day was unpleasant.
You may quote a proverb, Why buy a/the cow when you can get (the) milk for free? This is so used to mean if someone is already able to obtain a commodity or benefit freely or easily, then they won’t be inclined to pay for it. But another fact is that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Can you refuse to accept it?
There is no cow on the ice meaning there is nothing to be worried about. Just learn effective English, enrolling at British Lingua, else you’ll be as awkward as a cow on a crutch.
A cow is a mammal. Her pregnancy lasts about nine months and ten days. Then, she calves. She suckles her calf. But then, she moos when she has difficulty as human beings cry. I have a strong attachment to the bovine family as I worked as a cowboy in my formative years. To conclude, I’ll wait for your comments till the cows come home. I mean to say that I’ll be waiting for your feedback for a very long time.
Dr Birbal Jha is the Managing Director of Lingua Multiservices Pvt Ltd having the trademark British Lingua specializing in English skilling in India.