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  1. #1
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    Default What is a "Cowan"

    I thought this may be an interesting topic for discussion.

    Who knows what a "Cowan" is?

    Does it have anything to do with Home Inspectors?
    " ........................................." IR inspectors?
    ".........................................." ???

    Can you give an example of a Cowan?
    (No names)


    "At what point in time did home inspectors decide that their time was worth less than everyone else's?"

    I'm not saying that if someone does not charge for a return visit that they are a Cowan, but I can see a connection.

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    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  2. #2
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    RC: That term applies to most of the masons in my area.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    Aaron
    I am not surprised and even expected you to be the first to post. I also expected you to have a general idea of what a Cowan is. Now, for the rest of the questions?


    "That term applies to most of the masons in my area."

    How so?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Aaron
    I am not surprised and even expected you to be the first to post. I also expected you to have a general idea of what a Cowan is. Now, for the rest of the questions?


    "That term applies to most of the masons in my area."

    How so?
    Never heard of it. Is it a regional term?

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Aaron
    I am not surprised and even expected you to be the first to post. I also expected you to have a general idea of what a Cowan is. Now, for the rest of the questions?


    "That term applies to most of the masons in my area."

    How so?
    RC: It certainly can be used in context in the two examples you provided. It would further aptly apply to most RE agents I have encountered. Government employees should be added to the list: especially municipal building inspectors.

    Sorry, your instructions proscribe me from naming names, but my list is VERY long.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    "Never heard of it. Is it a regional term?"

    No, Cowans can be anywhere.
    Even could be here on InspectionNews.
    I will not mention any assocations by name, but it seems (at least to me) that some associtions promote Cowans.

    Aaron may have an understanding of the term.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    "Sorry, your instructions proscribe me from naming names, but my list is VERY long."

    Thank you.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    Ah, I had to pull out the old family Scottish dictionary!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    "Ah, I had to pull out the old family Scottish dictionary! "

    Now I got a mental picture of you in a kilt. UGHHH

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    Cow"an\ (kou"an), n. [Cf. OF. couillon a coward, a cullion.] One who works as a mason without having served a regular apprenticeship. [Scot.]

    - Cowan Definition | Definition of Cowan at Dictionary.com

    Michael Thomas
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    I noticed the dictionary.com site also had a further part (Note) mentioning free masonry. I'm always suspicious of a modern attribution that enjoins masonry and free masonry. If the attribution is English or Scottish I'd like to check Oxford for a look, but no access from here, and not interested enough to hit the stacks.


    cullion n. [M.E. coillon, wretch, lit., testicle < Fr. couillon < It. coglione, ult. < L. coleus, scrotum] [Obs.] a low, contemptible fellow.

    cully n. pl. -lies [17th-cent. thieves' slang, prob. contr. of CULLION] [Old Slang] 1. a dupe 2. a fellow; companion; mate -- vt. -lied,-lying [Old Slang] to trick; decieve; cheat.

    Websters New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition.

    A cowan (today) is an unqualified illegitimate or uninitiated grunt pretending to be a skilled or legitimate practitioner. A gypsy, trunk-slammer, con, etc. In paganism (freemasonry, pagans, witchcraft, etc.) anyone non-pagan is a "cowan". I haven't verified the citations, but found this to be an interesting supposedly historical piece on what a cowan was (literally) and was not (historical operative masonry use vs. speculative Freemasonry):
    MasonicWorld.com

    highlights include:
    .....shows that the rough mason or waller, or builder with unhewn stones and without lime (like the Scottish Cowan) was a lower class tradesman according to the wages then fixed.

    ....Cowans or Cowaners, i.e., freemen or journeymen restricted to one class of work

    .....Cowan being authorized to work stone and mortar, and to build mortar walls, but not above an "ell" in height (Engl. 45", Scot. 37.2"), and without the power to work or lay hewen work, nor to build with sand and lime.


    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 12-07-2009 at 12:03 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    "A cowan is an unqualified illegitimate or uninitiated grunt pretending to be a skilled or legitimate practitioner. A gypsy, trunk-slammer, con, etc."

    I've never heard it as " Grunt" or "Gypsy", but as for the rest, thats the way I understand it.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    Different terms of a different generation and region - perhaps not politically correct. There are roving bands of "gypsies" mostly based in the Carolina's who still to this day rove the country as trunk slamming roofers, pavers, concrete, etc. through the season, hitting an area collecting money (if doing any work it is substandard & top dressing and only designed to collect funds quick) and moving on to the next victim or area. Seems most of the news magazines have done pieces on these groups and specialized scams many times over the decades. Grunt or grunts as in grunt work and those who perform it - the unskilled, lower than apprentice or entry work; one with no "standing" or "training". Found "Grunt" to be somewhat universal expression in the Armed forces (boot camp, busted rank) & the trades, nationwide over the years, perhaps it too has fallen out of fashion, hard to keep track with all the "P.C." dogma (grunts - folks have to have a respectable title to make them feel good about themselves - nobody gets a failing grade in school anymore b.s.; and "The Travelers" a.k.a. "irish gypsies", as "trunk slammers", etc.). Before we got so P.C. these "Traveller" folks and similar scammers were often called "irish gypsies", "scottish (incorrectly) gypsies" or just plain "gypsies".

    From your own State, here's a link to a your Governor's Office of Consumer Affiars, about the "Irish Travellers" a.k.a. gypsies, from May 2007: georgia.gov - Irish Travelers Perpetuate a Tradition of Fraud

    Here's a pretty good relatively recent ABC News story all about the "Irish Travelers", "gypsy culture" and their secret Shelta or Cant language:

    Distrust Dogs Toogood's 'Traveler' Culture - ABC News

    Forgot they have big groups home-based in TX and GA too.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 12-07-2009 at 12:46 PM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    So, back to the original question...


    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I thought this may be an interesting topic for discussion.

    Who knows what a "Cowan" is?

    Does it have anything to do with Home Inspectors?
    " ........................................." IR inspectors?
    ".........................................." ???
    According to definition posted a cowan "inspector" would be one who took classes to become an inspector and never served under another inspector (apprenticeship). Or a tradesperson who started doing inspections but never served under another inspector. Probably about 90% of the home inspectors working today.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Rowe View Post
    So, back to the original question...




    According to definition posted a cowan "inspector" would be one who took classes to become an inspector and never served under another inspector (apprenticeship). Or a tradesperson who started doing inspections but never served under another inspector. Probably about 90% of the home inspectors working today.
    One who performs a service or work of any kind which requires having a license, registration, or similar "qualification" by the jurisdiction, without one holding said license, registration, or similar, in good standing, could be considered a Cowan.

    The "handyman" electrician, plumber, mason, etc.: cowan.

    By a union brother or sister viewing the non-union "scab": cowan.

    Depends on the point of view.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    "One who performs a service or work of any kind which requires having a license, registration, or similar "qualification" by the jurisdiction, without one holding said license, registration, or similar, in good standing, could be considered a Cowan."

    I disagree with that in some ways.
    For many many years in Georgia, to become a Licensed General Contractor, all you needed was $50.00. That is how much a business license cost.
    So having a license (at least a GC) was not a good measure as to if someone was qualified.
    So one could be a Cowan and still be Licensed, or not.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    "According to definition posted a cowan "inspector" would be one who took classes to become an inspector and never served under another inspector (apprenticeship). Or a tradesperson who started doing inspections but never served under another inspector. Probably about 90% of the home inspectors working today."

    At least 90%, well at least 90% +1

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    One who performs a service or work of any kind which requires having a license, registration, or similar "qualification" by the jurisdiction, without one holding said license, registration, or similar, in good standing, could be considered a Cowan.
    Not according to the definitions you and others have previously posted.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    From the OED:

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images

  20. #20
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    The gypsy thing is interesting.... there was a long thread on an RV message board about these groups that travel around and stay in RV parks for few weeks and usually leave in the middle of the night with whatever they can grab from the folks around the park. This is usally after scamming the local community for driveway coatings and other junk.

    I seem to remember some connection to an entire brand of RV (Franklin I think). The story is it's owned completely by gypsys and they are basically put together with shoe laces and bubble gum.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    From the OED:
    Thanks for the 2nd, how about the first (and was there a 3rd +)?


  22. #22
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    That's great. One of my best friend's last name is Cowan. Wait until I tell him. The funny part is he's one of the few really good contractors in our town.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  23. #23
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Thanks for the 2nd, how about the first (and was there a 3rd +)?
    HG: Sorry, I did not post the first due to its being off topic. Here are both in a better format:

    Attached Files Attached Files

  24. #24
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    Default Re: What is a "Cowan"

    AD: Thanks.

    From definitions, usages and the article about Cowans in Masonry I previously linked, I'll still stand by my example about unlicensed or unregistered inspectors (or otherwise not in good standing) in states requiring licenses or registration and other standards; and a Unionist tradesperson describing the work activities of a non-unionist.

    From the article:


    "Cowan is an essentially Scottish trade term, and it belongs to the time when lodges, as trade-controlling bodies, put restrictions against the employment of cowans, in order to protect the fully-trained men of the Craft from competition by unskilled labour. The earliest official ban against cowans appeared in the Schaw Statutes in 1598."


    "To better understand the position of the cowan it is necessary to look at the organization of the old operative guilds. In the days of James I of Scotland (born 1394, reigned 1424-37), a statute was passed empowering craftsmen in their different branches to elect a wise man of the Craft to be the leader of that craft so that the King be not defrauded in the future, as had been in the past; because of untrue men in the Craft."

    Supposedly the SOPs and statutes requiring registration/licensing are to protect the consumers (in other times the "King" was THE consumer of interest).


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