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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2010-11-18 22:47:23

Registered: 2007-01-08
Posts: 4

Cowtailing for Kowtowing

This is a comment on an article:
Comment 20 of 31

Concerned Aussie of Aust. Posted at 10:59 AM November 18, 2010
I am NOT a Falun Gong follower. But there seems to a point that most are missing, in that the Chinese government escorted an Australian civillain doing her job from an aircraft and was interrogated with no representation from the Australian Government present. QANTAS on the other hand has cowtailed to the Chinese Government who seem to be pushing their muscle around yet again and for that matter so has the Australian Government cowtailed to the Chinese yet again. Falun Gong seems to be a non-violent religion but is treated like criminals in China and China exherts its power wherever it feels like to attack these people. There must be some truth to the stories otherwise the Chinese Government would not be PERSECUTING these people. If you are not careful, you will all be carrying MAO’s little red book around in 50 years instead of having your freedom.

Read more: … z15hEcRHVz

This is the first time I’ve ever come across the term cow-tailing, but I googled it and it does have a meaning other than this obvious mistake.
by Doug Alderson
(all photos by author)

With a cow-tail line you can short-tow a partner in need of assistence, keep your kayak from drifting away after a wet exit, hang on to your paddle if you need both hands free for rescue, and clip into a throw line for an open-water tow. … tail01.htm

So, mistake, or eggcorn? I say mistake but I’d be interested to see if there are other instances of using cowtail for kowtow.



#2 2010-11-19 09:09:38

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2149

Re: Cowtailing for Kowtowing

Interesting. It was repeated, which is significant. But even for this perpetrator, it is not clear how the idea of a cow-tail adds up to the contextually required meaning (of giving in to a bullying opponent.)
For me it wakes possibly relevant associations with tucking your tail between your legs (canine, not bovine behavior), brown-nosing, not sure what else. Probably not strong enough: if I were to have said it myself I wouldn’t think it an eggcorn.
Close: it is clearly a restructuring, perceiving two morphemes (cow and tail) where neither was originally (though many speakers may think there’s a cow somehow in kowtow); but it doesn’t make sense. It is also not clearly enough standard for anybody (though it may well be for this one person, which in my book would be enough.)

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2010-11-19 09:12:09)

*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)



#3 2010-11-25 12:21:29

From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 1101

Re: Cowtailing for Kowtowing

‘Cowtail’ has been noticed before: … p?id=2494. See also cow down and cow toe. I like the link to bullying.



#4 2013-03-24 04:35:35

Registered: 2010-10-07
Posts: 2

Re: Cowtailing for Kowtowing

I just read ‘cow tail’ in a book where it seemed obvious that it should mean ‘kowtow’, and wondered if it was an eggcorn with additional meaning.
From ‘The California Club’ by Belinda Jones (Random House, 2003), where the main character is talking about her relationships with the girls her friend-and-crush dates “I daren’t even look directly at him in front of them because I’m afraid the love pouring from my eyes will be all luminous and gloat like something from Ghost. But really, why should I feel so ashamed for adoring him? Sometimes I get indignant, feeling like I’m cow-tailing to someone who’ll only be around for a few months instead of being true to myself.”

For me it evokes the idea of brown-nosing before an obvious ‘cow’ (the girlfriend). What do you think?



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