The Huz and I just returned from our big European vacation (pics coming this week) and I’m currently catching up on email and news.
One of the newsletters I often read is called “Mad Cowboy” – a pro-vegan digest assembled by Howard Lyman’s staff (not that I’m even close to veggie… I just like the recipes). You may recall Lyman’s claim to fame: he’s the farmer who appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show to discuss mad cow disease only to be sued by a herd of billionaire Texas cattlemen under an obscure law, “the Texas Food Disparagement Act”. You can read more here if interested.
So in the most recent Mad Cowboy newsletter there’s a hilarious excerpt from an Ananova story about cows: “Phonetics experts have backed up dairy farmers’ claims that cows moo with regional accents. Dairy farmers in Somerset noticed a local twang to the sounds made by their animals, reports the Guardian. John Wells, Professor of Phonetics at the University of London, said: “This phenomena is well attested in birds. You find distinct chirping accents in the same species around the country. “This could also be true of cows. In small populations such as herds you would encounter identifiable dialectical variations which are most affected by the immediate peer group.”
The story leaves out one key element in Wells’ quote: his opening point, “I told them I thought it highly unlikely…”
The whole thing turns out to be a PR stunt mobilised to sell West Country Farmhouse Cheeses. Those bloody Brits are brilliant with their PR. This story spread like mad, appearing in The Guardian, the BBC and other highly-regarded news outlets around the world (well, the beeb is known for some silly science gaffs, but this is colossal).
So in line with some linguistic fun, here’s a great joke to combat early workweek silliness.
A team of archaeologists was excavating in Israel when they came upon a cave. Written across the wall of the cave were the following symbols: a woman, a donkey, a shovel, a fish, and the Star of David.
They decided that this was a unique find, and that the writings were at least three thousand years old. They chopped out the pieces of stone and had them brought to the museum, where archaeologists from all over the world came to study the ancient symbols. After months of conferences to discuss the meaning of the markings, they held a huge meeting.
The president of the scholarly society stood up and pointed at the first drawing and said: “This looks like a woman. We can judge that the race was family-oriented and held women in high esteem. You can also tell they were intelligent, as the next symbol resembles a donkey, so they were smart enough to have animals help them till the soil. The next drawing looks like a shovel of some sort, which means they even had tools to help them. Even further proof of their high intelligence is the fish, which means that if a famine hit the earth, they would take to the sea for food. The last symbol appears to be the Star of David, which means they were evidently Hebrews.” The audience applauded enthusiastically.
Then a little old man stood up in the back of the room and said: “Idiots! Hebrews read from right to left. It says: ‘Holy Mackerel, dig the ass on that woman!'”