Children hear the story about the city mouse and the country mouse, and they learn how people’s lives can be quite different based on where they live.
Now and then I pick up on some differences that people might find between living in a rural versus an urban environment. I grew up in a small city and now live in the country, so some of these words and phrases are interesting to me because of how they might be misunderstood.
Here’s what I mean: An urban person might think of corn rows as a very time consuming hair style to receive. A person out in the country drives past rows of corn all summer long.
Speaking of corn, it is stalked. People in towns and cities worry if they are being stalked. Country people too, I guess. Somebody could be stalking them from the corn rows.
Somebody making a very derisive comment can cut you to the quick. When a farmer trims a sheep’s hooves, she or he must be careful not to cut into the sensitive area where there is blood flow – otherwise known as the “quick.”
A person in town might talk about not missing an opportunity by saying they have to make hay while the sun shines. A farmer literally has to make hay while the sun shines, because wet hay molds.
I think my favorite misunderstanding would come in the discussion of “A.I.” For a computer person that stands for “artificial intelligence.” For a livestock farmer it means “artificial insemination.” Both are artificial, but take place at opposite parts of the body.
I probably shouldn’t go into the difference between the rural and the urban meanings of the word “hoe.”
Some schools, especially Ivy Leagues colleges, have fencing teams where they say things like “en garde” and “touche.” On farms, fencing means digging holes, putting in posts, and stretching wire. Very little French is spoken, although there is sometimes colorful language.
In business sometimes people talk about how different departments don’t communicate. They say each department is a silo. A rural silo contains silage, which doesn’t communicate at all.
Anyway, you get my point. Sometimes city and country people may say the same words, but mean very different things. One term that originates in the country actually means the same thing wherever you go. The first part of the term has to do with the male bovine, and the second part; well, let’s just say it has a scent that country people know all too well!