walked bowlegged for a better grip

Discussion in 'English Only' started by AlexanderIII, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. AlexanderIII

    AlexanderIII Senior Member

    Moscow
    Russian
    Dear all,
    this is from the novel Zoli by Colum McCann.

    The wheels [of caravans] got stuck in the puddled roads. We lifted them out and walked bowlegged for a better grip, following the notched bones and bundled straw and other signs.

    The sentence
    we walked carefully in the mud for a better grip and lifted them out
    would be clear: to find a place for a comfortable and reliable grip. The sentence as it is, is not clear. Could you explain please?
    Walk bowlegged I guess means walk carefully. Is this correct?
     
  2. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    It means walk with the legs bowed (like a cowboy or a sailor) -- feet close together and knees wide apart.

    [​IMG]

    I'm not at all sure how this gives someone a better grip (better grip on the caravan or on the mud?).
     
  3. AlexanderIII

    AlexanderIII Senior Member

    Moscow
    Russian
    I see. Thank you, Keith Bradford.
     
  4. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    I think he means they walked along with the caravans, supporting the rear wheels by pulling up on them a little. They'd probably have had to walk with one leg on either side of a wheel, causing them to walk bowlegged.
     
  5. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    I can see the picture and I think you're right, but I'm not sure if I'd really call that bowlegged. There are other words such as straddling or astride that might fit better.
     
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    My mental picture is similar to Barque's, except that I don't see the people as necessarily straddling the wheels - just with their knees bent outwards the better to lift the weight of the caravan.
     
  7. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    Yes, that's how I see it too. By "one leg on either side" I didn't mean they were actually straddling the wheel, but that the wheel was directly in front of their bodies, and their legs wide apart. I can imagine them turning their feet out (with heels in) for a more stable stance - that might be the bowlegged effect the narrator's referring to.
     
  8. AlexanderIII

    AlexanderIII Senior Member

    Moscow
    Russian
    I see. Thank you, Barque and Loob.
     
  9. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil

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