milch
Posted: 08 October 2007 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Just came across a biblical reference to “milch cows” in the first book of Samuel (New Revised Standard Version).  Milch seems to be the same word as Milk at least in its verbal and adjectival form. Same etymology. So, why two words? And why would a translation published in 1989 have retained what seems to me to be an older form? Perhaps it isn’t an older form.

In the AV it’s “milch kine” FWIW.

Last time we discussed “milk cows” aldi allowed as to how the form “milch cows” is “still current in the UK”

I confess to never having heard this variant here in the US, but there are many hits on google for it.

Is it an older form?  Is it still in use in leftpondia?

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Posted: 08 October 2007 04:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’ve encountered it from American writers (Heinlein, for instance, IIRC) but seldom if ever in conversation.  I’d previously thought of it as a Pennsylvania Dutchism, but the entry in AHD does not mark it as regional.

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Posted: 08 October 2007 04:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It is not the same word, and the etymology is not at all clear.  Here’s what the OED (Mar. 2002 revision) has to say:

[Immediate origin uncertain; app. ult. < the same Germanic base as either MILK v. or MILK n.1 The Middle English word is perh. a continuation of Old English melc (see below), or perh. < (or influenced by) Old English -milce in þrimilce the month of May, prob. use as noun of an unattested adjective *þrimilce, lit. ‘having three milkings (a day)’ < þri-, combining form of þrie THREE a. + milce, a derivative of MILK n.1
  Old English melc is cognate with West Frisian melk, Middle Dutch melk, Middle Low German melk, Old High German melc (Middle High German melch, German (arch.) melk), prob. < the Germanic base of Old English melcan (see MILK v.). (There is no evidence for the Old English form meolc recorded in N.E.D. and Bosworth-Toller s.vv.) For examples of the Old English word cf.:
   eOE Cleopatra Gloss. in W. G. Stryker Lat.-Old Eng. Gloss. in MS Cotton Cleopatra A.III (Ph.D. diss., Stanford Univ.) (1951) 197 Fætas, melce andtydrende. Foetus, melc. OE Old Eng. Martyrol. (Julius) 15 Sept. 209 Đa geseah se Godes þeow wilde hinde melce; þa gesenode he hi. Đa gestod heo ond se geþyrsta mon meolcode ða hinde ond dranc þa meolc. OE Antwerp Gloss. 172 Ubera, melcebreost. OE tr. Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarium (Vitell.) xix. 64 Wið titta sar wifa þe beoð melce & toðundene.
  Forms in -e- could be explained as continuations of this Old English adjective, if it is assumed that palatalization of final c after l preceded by a front vowel has occurred here (cf. A. Campbell Old Eng. Gram. (1959) §428 n.1). Forms with -i- could perh. be explained as showing the reflex of this word with sporadic interchange of e and i before l, or could alternatively be explained as either independently from or influenced by the second element of þrimilce, or again as showing influence of MILK n.1 or MILK v. The spelling in quot. c1300 is difficult to account for.
   The parallel formation represented by Old Icelandic mjólkr, Norwegian (Nynorsk) mjølk, in the same sense, is app. < the Germanic base of MILK n.1; cf. the parallel Old Icelandic milkr from the same base with Germanic mutation of e to i before a j-suffix.
The word is app. attested early in place names, as Melceburne (1086; now Melchbourne, Bedfordshire).]

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Posted: 08 October 2007 08:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Yes, the form is still very much alive in the UK in farming circles. There are several American googlits too, here’s one (albeit from 1971).

NEW-YORK CATTLE MARKET.; SALES TODAY. MILCH COWS. VEALS. SHEEP AND LAMBS. SWINE.

New York Times

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Posted: 09 October 2007 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I was wondering about the pronunciation. Merriam-Webster gives three alternatives. What would you say is the most common one? Any difference between US and UK use? Are there local variants?

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Posted: 09 October 2007 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’d pronounce it to rhyme with “filch”.

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Posted: 09 October 2007 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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If the usual pronunciation is /milk/, that may explain why I can’t recall hearing it.

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Posted: 09 October 2007 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Dutchtoo - 09 October 2007 09:58 AM

I was wondering about the pronunciation. Merriam-Webster gives three alternatives. What would you say is the most common one? Any difference between US and UK use? Are there local variants?

I’ve just asked folks of an earlier generation here in the Midwest of Leftpondia and they pronounce it as bayard suggests.  Miltch.  And these folks say that it was their German grandparents who used this word.  The next generation refused to follow the lead.

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Posted: 09 October 2007 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I use /milch/, which is the only pronunciation given in OED and AHD.  M-W and NOAD give /milk/ as the first pronunciation, which seems odd; surely people who say “/milk/ cow” are saying milk cow, not milch cow (an uncommon phrase in the US anyway).  I wonder on what grounds they give that as the preferred pronunciation?

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Posted: 16 October 2007 04:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Not that it relates to anything of any use, but I like this sort of stuff.  From Gross’s http://vulgar.pangyre.org/ Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue:

Milch cow:  One who is easily tricked out of his property; a term used by gaolers, for prisoners who have money and bleed freely.

Aldi, I wondered if farmers in the south of England use the term “milch cow” more?  I can’t recall hearing it in the north, though I’m not from a farming background.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 06:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I’ve only come across it in writing when used with the archaic plural for cow ‘kine’ - which seems to have fallen out of use around the turn of the 19th/20th centuries in the UK. I had no idea that the pronunciation of milch and milk were the same and I’d never seen ‘milch’ written in contemporary usage (but I don’t have any links with the farming community other than eating).

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Posted: 16 October 2007 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I had no idea that the pronunciation of milch and milk were the same

I don’t believe they are the same.  See my comment above.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I think the question boils down to this: do a significant number of people say “milk cow” but write “milch cow”?  If there are, then it’s reasonable to say that “milch” is pronounced /milk/ by those people.  I doubt the lexicographers at M-W list that pronunciation for no reason, though maybe I have too much faith in them.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Dr. Techie - 16 October 2007 10:42 AM

I think the question boils down to this: do a significant number of people say “milk cow” but write “milch cow”?  If there are, then it’s reasonable to say that “milch” is pronounced /milk/ by those people.  I doubt the lexicographers at M-W list that pronunciation for no reason, though maybe I have too much faith in them.

I think that the standard pronunciation is like the word filch as bayard noted.  It may be that the next generation of listeners may have changed the pronunciation of milch to milk while leaving it written as milch.  The next change would then be to change the written word itself.

The elderly members of my community who were farming people pronounced it the way bayard suggests.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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do a significant number of people say “milk cow” but write “milch cow”?  If there are, then it’s reasonable to say that “milch” is pronounced /milk/ by those people

I agree; it just seems unlikely to me that a significant number of people are aware of the (by now pretty obscure) phrase milch cow but not of how it’s (traditionally) pronounced.  I’m certainly willing to be proven wrong, and maybe I’ll bestir myself to contact a lexicographer or two and ask.

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