Friday, February 17, 2006

Here Bossy

I remember, as a child, visiting the farm of my uncle George, and watching him call in the dairy cattle.He would open up the gate leading to a long dirt pathway that stretched a quarter of a mile between corn fields, calling: "Here Boss, here Bossy!" and then after a few moments you'd hear a cow bell clanking off in the distance, and the lead cow, followed by all the others, would come ambling up the lane, through the gate, and head to the barn. Not too long ago in one of those unaccountable moments of mental musing, I started wondering why farmers call their cows "Bossy". Googling in "Bossy" got me some interesting porn sites, but no closer to an answer. Then recently it dawned on me... the genus for cows is Bos taurus... duh! Apparently Bos is the Roman word for cow. Other fun cow facts that city folks may not know: a heifer is a cow that has not yet had calves, and a dogie (or doggie) is a motherless calf (as in "Whoopee ti yi yo, get along little dogies, it's your misfortune, and none of my own. Whoopee ti yi yo, get along little dogies, you know that Wyoming will be your new home.")

Oo... fun with etymology...

Similarly, the "sueeee" call for pigs probably derives from the word 'sus' - likely also Roman, although I didn't check, and also used for the genus.
Jenn.. you're exactly right; the Roman word for pig is "sus".
My grandparents also called their cows bossy on their farm near Paris (Central City). I remember something in the Cedar Rapids Gazette way back in the 80's about how a U of I (English?) professor said that calling cows Bossy went all the way back to Ancient Greece. Sorry I don't have any more info. My grandpa just died and I was remembering him and did a Google search and found your site. Best wishes to you.
I found this on the web:

Lancelot Hogben, in _The Mother Tongue_, claimed that the farmworker's
cry of "Ho! Boss!" to call cows is pure Greek: `o bos, "the cow". (The
` is an aspirate indicating "h-".) Even if that strains imagination,
the fact that "Bossy" is a common name for cows might be related to the
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