How now brown cow

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For the Cornbugs album, see How Now Brown Cow (album).

"How now brown cow" is a phrase used in elocution teaching to demonstrate rounded vowel sounds. Each "ow" sound in the phrase represents an individual diphthong. Although not in use today, the phrase "how now" is short for "how say you now" and can be found in archaic literature, such as the plays of William Shakespeare.


The use of the phrase "how now brown cow" in teaching elocution can be dated back to at least 1926.[1]

New Info: The expression "how now, brown cow" is used in a medieval latin poem by Avianus in the 5th century.

"The Calf and The Ox" Medieval latin poetry, Circa 400-430 A.D., poet - Avianus.

Scampering the pasture, that's how now, the brown cow, a calf still, sees in the next field, yoked to a heavy plow, the dumb ox, and stops to shoot the breeze: "What's that contraption? What kind of life is that?" The questions, even the mocking laugh get no rise from the ox, but a silent stare at the farmer who carries a glittering butcher knife and a light halter, coming towards the calf. Nobody gets to choose which yoke to wear.



  1. ^ Bagley, Louie: "Elocution do's and dont's", Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1926
  2. ^ Avianus (Circa 400-430) The Calf and the Ox. David R. Slavitt (Trans.) In K. Washburn, J.S. Major, and C. Fadiman (Eds.) World Poetry (p. 300). New York: W.W. Norton and Company.