The languid goat is alway thin
This proverb, other than being the title of an interesting book of strange proverbs by Prion books, struck me the other night as interesting. At first sight, it seems bizarre, but this is just down to the choice of words - languid is not a word we generally use in everyday conversation (definition: adj : lacking spirit or liveliness), and everyday conversation about goats is rare. Then, while thinking about the problem I saw the most obvious interpretation: if you just sit about doing nothing then you'll always be hungry. The proverb is an exhultation to effort and good positive attitude. In the context of the origin of the proverb (chinese farming communities), goats have a pretty tough time, and get their food by scrubbing around eating anything and everything that is available. Staying alive requires a constant effort and (from my admittedly limited experience of goats) a fairly cheeky opportunistic attitude as far as grabbing whatever is available. Ergo, a goat that is not lively and spirited will go thin, because no-one else will feed it! So while I was thinking on these lines, contextualising the proverb, a sudden and radical thought came into my head - what if the proverb is really advocating the complete opposite! After all, on a farm what is the role of a goat? It is to eat anything and everything, maybe produce a little milk, but ultimately to put on weight so that one day you can be culled for your meat. Perhaps the proverb really means "If you take it easy, you may stay thin, but at least you'll live longer". Just goes to show, six words can say so much. Or as some might put it, ignorance when spread thin goes a long way!