SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Can cows have paws?

Discussion started on

(Sorry if this a dumb question or in the wrong forum -- please kindly let me know if I goofed, I'm new here and trying to follow all rules)

I wrote a story about a cow. In the book, I wrote she has "paws". People pointed out to me that cows have hooves, not paws. Sure they do. But being a non-native speaker of English and still having enough familiarity with the language, I thought "paw" was cuter.

For what it's worth, I also think teddy bears don't have "claws", they have "paws".

What do you think? Is it okay to refer to cow's feet as paws instead of hooves?

If you read this sentence in a children's book "... and the cow stomped her paws on the ground..." would you think

1) The writer doesn't know proper English
2) The write doesn't know animal anatomy
3) All of the above
4) The author is being cute
5) Something else

I'm fine with 2 and 4, but want to avoid too many people in categories 1, 3, and 5 above.

What would you do in your own story about a cow?

Thanks a lot!
#1 - March 21, 2020, 11:51 AM

Reader, Writer, Teacher, Wife & Mother
Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
I just love cows with paws, but then I like cute. However, I also like for names to be accurate. So on the fence...
Perhaps you need to write a book with the title of this post :)
#2 - March 21, 2020, 02:40 PM
Max & Dagny, Why in the World, Tongue-Tied, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags
https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com https://bodachbooks.blogspot.com

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region westcentny
I think if the cow having paws rather than hooves is part of the story, it works. Otherwise, I think you need to go with hooves.
#3 - March 21, 2020, 04:27 PM
BLACKOUT -- available now
DESERTED -- available now
SISTERS DON'T TELL -- available now
www.deenalipomi.com

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region canadaeast
IMHO

If the book isn't full of "fun" substitutions, I would consider it a poor word choice -- that the writer possibly thought paws was an easier word than hooves (and not 1 or 2 from your list)

That said, we use arm for tentacle, and wing for flying squirrels rather than patagium. 
#4 - March 21, 2020, 05:58 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
If your animal is meant to otherwise be realistic, I'd be pulled right out of the story. I think a lot of kids would also, but not all. But do we want kids to believe cows have paws? Kids who don't know will believe this to be true because it's in a book.

Take a look at books about anthropomorphic animals: Arthur, Franklin the Turtle, and many newer books, especially newer books. Use the first book in any series because selling the third book is different than selling the first. See what you find. That'll be a better indication of what you can get away with than we are. Also, consider the illustration. Can a cow with paws be effectively illustrated? (Probably, but I'm no artist and it might look weird.)

#5 - March 21, 2020, 06:37 PM
« Last Edit: March 22, 2020, 06:27 PM by Debbie Vilardi »
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Children's writer
Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region australiaeastnz
Sorry, but I vote for 3.
#6 - March 21, 2020, 06:40 PM
I've Got a Tail! - Amicus Ink 2020
Coming up: Millbrook Press & CSIRO Publications

www.juliemurphybooks.com

Thank you all. I think I got my answer already: I have a very shallow excuse to keep using "paws".

Thanks!
#7 - March 22, 2020, 09:23 AM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region sfnortheastbay
I'm with David Wright. It's okay for this cow to have paws if THIS cow is some sort of unusual cow who has many things about her that make her an oddity, and this is an important or at least integral part of the story. Like the purple Cow of yore, who no one has seen and would rather not be one.  (If you know the ditty)
#8 - March 23, 2020, 12:51 PM
« Last Edit: March 23, 2020, 03:56 PM by 217mom »
THE VOICE OF THUNDER, WiDo Publishing
THERE'S A TURKEY AT THE DOOR, Hometown520

www.mirkabreen.com
http://mirkabreen.BlogSpot.com

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region socal
Sorry, I vote for #3. I just don't like it. Cows have hooves. If the whole book is fun and silly, I guess it could work. It also might depend on the age group you're writing for. If a child isn't old enough to know a cow has hooves she wouldn't get the joke anyway. Maybe just be confused. It's like saying a chicken has lips.
#9 - March 23, 2020, 03:41 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region socal
I've been thinking about your question a lot. I think I should add that I am quite a literal person, and that may have colored my answer. But I'm not the only literal person out there, so it's something to think about.

I do think a small child saying a cow has paws would be cute.
#10 - March 24, 2020, 11:31 AM

Thank you Pons and others. I decided to go with hooves since there is nothing about the story or the cow that explicitly calls for "paws" other than my own way of thinking (in my native language -- Portuguese -- everything has a paw, even birds, bears, cows, etc. But then, we humans have 20 fingers, not 10 fingers and 10 toes).  :oops
#11 - March 24, 2020, 11:35 AM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region canadaeast
(in my native language -- Portuguese -- everything has a paw

That's interesting. In (online) translation usually paw = pata, hoof = casco, foot=pé, etc., so is pata used most often?
#12 - March 24, 2020, 12:18 PM

David,  "casco" is possibly the most appropriate word to refer to the bottom part (the hoof itself), but no Portuguese speaker (at least in Brazil) would claim "pata" is incorrect. We're very informal. In fact, "pata" can also refer to the entire limb (leg plus hoof). I checked with other Brazilians on this and they mostly agreed. Maybe in Portugal, where people tend to be more literal, they could frown upon using "pata". Not sure.

The Portuguese version of the book uses "patinhas" (little paws) while I've now updated the English version to use "hoof".

Thanks.
#13 - March 24, 2020, 12:26 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region socal
The differences in languages is fascinating. Makes it a little tough for writers, though.   :star2
#14 - March 24, 2020, 01:38 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
Love learning the Portuguese.
#15 - March 24, 2020, 06:56 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.