the cows are in the gin close, but they’re not up

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(para. 279) by Lawrence(the University of Adelaide,here):
‘Let me see! Oh yes, the cows are in the gin close, but they’re not up yet. But the gate’s locked, you’ll have to climb.’

The sentence in blue seems unclear for me. I guess "gin close" is a house where cows are kept, but what's the meaning of "they're not up?
Does it refer to "the cow keepers have not got up" please?

Thank you in advance
 
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  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    As I understand it:
    gin (n.) - a form of trap
    gin (n. used as adj.) - secure

    Close (n,) - an enclosure.

    gin-close: a secure enclosure used for keeping cattle at night (or for another purpose.)

    "they're not up yet" -> "they are not up in the field(s) yet"
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you, PaulQ.
    Is a gin-close an enclosure with traps around it?
    And does your "they are not up in the field(s)" refer to "the cows (rather than the cow-keepers) has not waken up and entered the field(s) to eat grass"?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Is a gin-close an enclosure with traps around it?
    No. "Gin" is a shortened form of "engine". Here "engine" is used in its oldest meaning of "any clever (usually mechanical) device." The word "gin" came to have many meanings related to this "clever idea". It is still used in the noun "gin-trap" - a trap that holds an animal securely (and very cruelly).

    The idea of a gin close was, as above, a secure enclosure used for keeping cattle at night (or for another purpose.) There may have been a particularly clever design to the "close" but we can safely say it would not involve traps. (There are no large predators in the UK - although there are thieves!)

    For the purpose of translation you could use "cattle pen."

    "Gin close" is a dialect phrase. As far as I can see, it is not used outside Nottinghamshire. (There is a road called "Gin Close Way" in Awesworth, Nottinghamshire, a village a few kilometres south of Eastwood where Lawrence grew up.)

    a gin-trap
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you very very much. Now I know the gin close. But what does your "they (cows or the owners of cows?)are not up in the field(s)"?
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    And now, here are some subsequent words:
    ‘Let me see! Oh yes, the cows are in the gin close. But they’re not up yet. But the gate’s locked, you’ll have to climb.’

    ‘I can climb,’ said Connie.

    ‘Perhaps I can just go down the close with you.’

    They went down the poor, rabbit-bitten pasture. Birds were whistling in wild evening triumph in the wood. A man was calling up the last cows, which trailed slowly over the path-worn pasture.


    So I have a new idea:
    they are not up yet refers to "they(the cows) are not back(=up) yet"

    Is that right please?
     
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    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    So I have a new idea: they are not up yet refers to "they(the cows) are not back(=up) yet"
    Yes. She is warning Connie that the cows are still in the gin-close and were not "up (in the sense of "away from the speaker.") in the fields"

    (It is possible that "up" means "on higher ground", but the area around Wragby Hall is relatively flat.)
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Oh. Is it possible that "the cows are in the gin close, but they’re not up yet. But the gate’s locked" means the flowing?

    the cows are (normally) in the gin close, but they(cows) are not up yet. But the gates's clocked, though it should be open when there is no cow in.
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I read it as "the cows haven't yet been taken 'up' to the dairy to be milked" and the cowman is summoning them, gathering them 'up' to be led 'up' from the field to the dairy. I doubt that 'up' has a true prepositional directional sense. It's being used in much the same non specific or ambiguous way as 'up' is used in 'walk up the street' or go 'up to town' or Go up to the big house'. Even if the landscape is relatively flat, the farm buildings could be slightly higher than the fields. We have no way of knowing. The speech reflects English idiom, not topographical elevation.

    It does look at first sight as if 'they' refers to the cows. But 'they' is in Mrs Flint's words not Lawrence's descriptive text. That's another reason why 'they' can't possibly refer back to 'cows'.
    Congratulations Paul on the brilliant work on the meaning of 'gin close'.

    The cows are being taken for the afternoon milking, about 4 pm I think. We know it's afternoon because we know it's after tea time. The cowman's late because he know's the framer's not there. This might be happening about 4.30 pm. It's spring, early March I suppose, so it still gets dark quite early.
    The morning milking's at about 5 am I think.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    The gate to the gin close would be closed if the cows were in the field. The cowman's still calling them 'in'/'up', to get them together at the gate, before taking them 'up' to the dairy.
    That's how I see it anyway.
    I thought cows gather at the field gate when it's milking time, mooing loudly if the milking's late, but it's Lawrence's scenario, not mine. ;)
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    How should I be grateful to you for your so detailed explanations
    It does look at first sight as if 'they' refers to the cows. But 'they' is in Mrs Flint's words not Lawrence's descriptive text. That's another reason why 'they' can't possibly refer back to 'cows'.
    Do you mean the "they" refers to cowmans and the framer ?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Do you mean the "they" refers to cowmans cowmen (better - cowherd) and the framer farmer?
    I don't think that they can refer to cowmen - only a very large farm would to have more than one cowman - Marehay Farm is not that big.

    Nevertheless, I now think that Hermione is right that the cows were either to be milked, or had been milked. I think they had been milked and were in a small enclosure where they were being held until the cowman was ready to take them up to the fields.

    Mrs Flint is the farmer's wife. She is nervous when she is with Connie because Connie is "the lady" and she is Connie's social inferior. Mrs Flint therefore talks a lot and, in her nervousness, sometimes does not say everything she means, she also knows that Connie knows all about how a farm works:

    "the cows are in the gin close,............................................................................ but they’re not up yet. ...............................................................................................................................But the gate’s locked"
    "The cows are in the pen [and ready to go to the fields], ...despite that they have not been taken up to the fields yet [although they should have been/will soon be]. But [don't worry about the cows because] the gate's locked.
     
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