Feeds

Your Cow Is In The Ditch: Reg readers explain

That's 'oma lehma ojassa' to you

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Letters When we spoke to the world's most celebrated Finn, Linus Torvalds last week we were curious about the Finnish expression "Your cow is in the ditch", and appealed for help.

As ever, erudite Register readers have come to the rescue.

The expression means roughly: "he has selfish reasons for seeing this one succeed", points out Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho.

An example we liked was: "Have you heard about Jorma Ollila driving up the Nokia stock price?" ... "Well, he's got his own cow in the ditch, you know," writes Tuomas Hakkarainen

Only it's not quite so pejorative, as Derek Sellin and Vesa Pajula, amongst others, point out: "The phrase itself is not a bad nor a good thing," writes Vesa.
"Most of the time this is relatively mild criticism, and is usually not used to refer to outright corruption," writes Dare Talvitie.

But as Hamalainen Teemu notes: "If it was a legal matter, he would be 'jäävi' or 'legally disqualified from deciding a given matter due to a conflict of interest'"

And the derivation is fairly obvious once you think about it. As we had to...

"The origin of this expression is most probably in the agrarian roots of Finnish society (we didn't become an industrial nation until after WW2 when we had to pay huge reparations to the Soviets)," writes Esko Halttunen.

"I would guess that it would be that when you were driving cows to the pasture and if one of them fell into a ditch, it tended to get stuck there and it was important to get it out. Well, a cow being as big as it is, there's no way one man can pull a fullgrown cow out all by himself, so that usually meant asking the neighbors for help, and naturally the owner of the cow had the most interest in getting the cow out, so he would try to be very persuasive."

Harri Rautila suggests updating cow for car to bring the phrase into the 21st century, but we do like it as it is, and think it should be adopted as widely as possible. Here's a start, anyway.

Many thanks also to Sami Silaste, Teemu Marjalaakso, Pauli Ojanpera Sampsa Laine, Jukka Lind Pirjo Sollasvaara, Jyry Kuukkanen, Rami Aapasuo and the rest of you for your contributions. And we won't be calling Finland a Scandinavian country again, OK? ®

Related Story

The Register's Linus Torvalds Interview

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Win a year’s supply of chocolate (no tech knowledge required)
Over £200 worth of the good stuff up for grabs
Facebook's Zuckerberg in EBOLA VIRUS FIGHT: Billionaire battles bug
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contacted as site supremo coughs up
Space exploration is just so lame. NEW APPS are mankind's future
We feel obliged to point out the headline statement is total, utter cobblers
Red Bull does NOT give you wings, $13.5m lawsuit says so
Website letting consumers claim $10 cash back crashes after stampede
Down-under record: Australian gets $140k for pussy
'Tiffany' closes deal - 'it's more common to offer your wife', says agent
Internet finally ready to replace answering machine cassette tape
It's a simple message and I'm leaving out the whistles and bells
Swiss wildlife park serves up furry residents to visitors
'It's ecological' says spokesman, now how would you like your Bambi done?
The iPAD launch BEFORE it happened: SPECULATIVE GUFF ahead of actual event
Nerve-shattering run-up to the pre-planned known event
STONER SHEEP get the MUNCHIES after feasting on £4k worth of cannabis plants
Baaaaaa! Fanny's Farm's woolly flock is high, maaaaaan
FedEx helps deliver THOUSANDS of spam messages DIRECT to its Blighty customers
Don't worry Wilson, I'll do all the paddling. You just hang on
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.