12 October 2009

Pull the udder one

Wandering quite aimlessly around the Manchester Museum yesterday afternoon (I was trying to find the mummies, but somehow drifted straight past them), I stumbled across a backlit display featuring a picture of a happy cow, chewing the cud, and some text explaining the origins of words relating to the subject of money.
The word "chattel", meaning "moveable possession", is connected with the word "cattle". When we pay a "fee", the word is related to the German "Vieh", which also means cattle. And when we have no money, we are "impecunious" - we literally have no cows, as the word comes from the Latin "pecus", meaning cattle. These all recall the days when wealth was measured in livestock and land, rather than precious metal or paper.
Holy cow, who'd've thought. Live stock, literally! Do you reckon the word "moolah" is also linked? What about "cash cow"?

(This pic, incidentally, is of Jersey Cow, which was part of the CowParade in Manchester in 2004. Jersey Cow was the brainchild of singer Jarvis Cocker and his good lady wife Camille Bidault-Waddington, a fashion stylist, and was put together by my friend Zimeon Jones, who is a textile designer and artist.)

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