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I was watching "The Big Bang theory" S7 E9. And I couldn't understand the meaning of "tip a cow". Please also explain the remaining conversation too. I am an Asian and not good at English. Here is the full conversation:

Leonard: The math is all there. It's not real.

Penny: Yes, it is.

Sheldon: Yeah... uh, look. It is scientifically impossible for a person to tip a cow. Even you, with your stocky build and lumberjack shoulders, you couldn't do it.

Raj: It's horrible. Why would you push a cow over? They're sacred.

Penny: Oh, stop it. I've seen you eat, like, a million hamburgers.

Raj: Hey, an animal can be both sacred and delicious.

Penny: Look, I'm telling you I've done it, okay? I clearly remember the cow standing up and then the cow on its side.

Leonard: Were you drunk?

Penny: I was 16 in Nebraska. What do you think?

Leonard: I think you're the one who fell over.

Penny: That would explain why the sky was also on its side.

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the verb tip means cause to topple or tumble by pushing. –  Maulik V Apr 16 at 4:37
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en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cow_tipping notes: "Cow tipping is the purported activity of sneaking up on an unsuspecting upright cow and pushing it over for entertainment. The practice of cow tipping is generally considered an urban legend, as cows do not sleep standing up, and the implication that a cow can be pushed over and not stand up again is incorrect, as, unless injured, cows routinely lie down and can easily regain their footing. The implication that rural citizens seek such entertainment due to lack of other alternatives is also generally viewed as a stereotype." –  JB King Apr 16 at 5:57
    
@JBKing why don't you put it as the answer? +1! –  Maulik V Apr 16 at 7:02
    
It doesn't explain the conversation, but I suppose I could expand on it. –  JB King Apr 16 at 7:04
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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Cow Tipping on Wikipedia notes: "Cow tipping is the purported activity of sneaking up on an unsuspecting upright cow and pushing it over for entertainment. The practice of cow tipping is generally considered an urban legend, as cows do not sleep standing up, and the implication that a cow can be pushed over and not stand up again is incorrect, as, unless injured, cows routinely lie down and can easily regain their footing. The implication that rural citizens seek such entertainment due to lack of other alternatives is also generally viewed as a stereotype."


As for the conversation, here is my attempt:

Leonard: The math is all there. It's not real.

Supplying evidence for some point and showing it isn't actual.

Penny: Yes, it is.

Rebuttal that something is real.

Sheldon: Yeah... uh, look. It is scientifically impossible for a person to tip a cow. >Even you, with your stocky build and lumberjack shoulders, you couldn't do it.

Stating that in terms of logic, it isn't realistic for a human being to push over a bovine animal. Someone with muscles and the appearance of someone that could cut down trees isn't able to accomplish this. "Lumberjack" is an occupation of someone that cuts down trees for a living often wears plaid and is thought to live in the wilderness.

Raj: It's horrible. Why would you push a cow over? They're sacred.

The Indian character noting a problem with doing this and asking what would motivate one to try this. In India, cows are considered a sacred animal that one wouldn't harm.

Penny: Oh, stop it. I've seen you eat, like, a million hamburgers.

Counter argument from the woman that has witnessed the Indian consume cow meat repeatedly.

Raj: Hey, an animal can be both sacred and delicious.

Counter to the counter-argument as he attempts to have it both ways. He wants to establish that the apparent contradiction isn't really that. "You can't have your cake and eat it" would be another phrase here.

Penny: Look, I'm telling you I've done it, okay? I clearly remember the cow standing up > >and then the cow on its side.

Clarification from the woman on the original point about pushing over a cow that she has a memory to admit as evidence.

Leonard: Were you drunk?

Question to be asked on this as if she were intoxicated, her credibility may be compromised here.

Penny: I was 16 in Nebraska. What do you think?

Obvious background point of being a teenager living in Middle America where the point is that a lot of teens may drink as there isn't much else to do.

Leonard:I think you're the one who fell over.

Explaining how the perception of the cow fell over because Penny lost control of her legs and fell down.

Penny: That would explain why the sky was also on its side.

Noting that her perspective changed as even the sky went onto the side instead of being on top.

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Yeah, that's it! +1 from me. You may remove the comment now, if feel okay. –  Maulik V Apr 16 at 9:39
    
That's a fantastic answer. Thank you so much. –  user136491 May 18 at 6:56
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The following answer focuses exclusively on "what does tip a cow mean" and how this relates to English (the idiom "to tip s'thing over").


To tip s'thing over: This comes from the idiomatic phrase, "to tip something over". As in, "I accidentally tipped it over (the coffee cup) and got coffee on my shirt."

The Big Bang theory (S7.E9): "It is scientifically impossible for a person to tip a cow."

This is funny because - unlike the idiomatically named activity "cow tipping" ("Let's go cow tipping!") - the phrase "tip a cow over" would just be standard, proper English. Scientists who seriously consider this subject would use a standard formal register like:

  • "How much force would be needed to tip a cow over?"

However, the irony of taking such a ridiculous subject seriously is expressed by using a parallel construction of the original phrase:

  • "How much force would be needed to tip a cow?"

So what do you do during "Cow tipping"? You don't "tip a cow over", but rather, you simply "tip a cow" (nonstandard but "makes sense" and is more funny).


History: In the pre-Internet days, someone started the Urban Legend that cows sleep standing up (they don't) and that if one was quiet, they could sneak up on it (doubtful) and tip one over (not typically possible due to their large size and ability to move away).

The Cow Tipping Craze: This became known as "Cow Tipping". Some people would claim to have done it or have known people who did it. Occasionally, in rural areas where cows could be found, a group of bored kids would actually decide to "Go Cow Tipping!", possibly while drunk, and attempt (and fail) to do this.

What Really Happened: In reality, they most likely (a) just went out to some field and got drunk or (b) actually approached and seeing how large a cow is, didn't even attempt it or (c) was merely unsuccessful and just got dirty slipping around on cow poop.

Pre-Internet Propagation of the Story: They would likely come back with a story full of cow tipping fun along with the mandatory dramatic part about how they were so drunk they tried to tip a bull and it almost killed them. The social effect of this was to show others how much fun they all had "cow tipping". Then, for fun, they could get someone else to come with them next time and laugh as the new person attempted the stunt, running around chasing cows that don't let people walk up to them. "That one's not asleep! You have to find one that's asleep!" This idea also made it's way to college campuses, and became part of college folk legend and some college hazing.

Urban Myths: In urban areas, the idea always seemed plausible but unknown if it was true. Nobody had done so, but someone always knew someone who had done it. At some point, the story gained the horrific detail that it would likely end with the cow getting seriously injured or dying because it couldn't get back up. This became Internet troll fodder, which would go something like this:

Jazon: "Yes I once tipped a cow and it was so funny. But later I learned that it's fatal to the cow and I've felt bad ever since. But on the other hand, it was so funny I would go try again if someone wanted to join me...
Susan: "That's mean! Don't tip cows!
Freedo: That's animal cruelty! How would you like it if you were tipped over in your sleep?"

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