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Learning English - Words in the News
08 September, 2008 - Published 11:41 GMT
Noisy cows
A cow

A farmer in the French Alps is being taken to court because his cows are too noisy. Neighbours say the cowbells on his herd at a village near the town of Annecy are keeping them awake at night. Hugh Schofield reports from Paris:

Listen to the story

Michel Deronzier grazes his herd of 70 dairy cattle on fields just outside the village of Villaz, in the pastoral bliss of a French Alpine mountainside. Several of the animals wear cowbells - not for decoration, he insists, but for the very practical reason that they can be more easily located if they stray.

But several of Monsieur Deronzier's neighbours have had enough. They say that the constant chiming of the cowbells is stopping them sleeping, and now one of them has filed a suit at the courts demanding that the herd be kept away.

Monsieur Deronzier is naturally furious, but he might be comforted if he knew that his case is far from unique. In recent years across France there's been a series of law-suits over such rustic nuisances as the crowing of cocks, the quacking of ducks or the clanging of church bells.

It's a reflection of the changing sociological face of the French provinces. Most of the law suits are filed by a new type of rural inhabitant: former town-dwellers who've come in search of the silence and instead find life in the countryside disquietingly loud.

Hugh Schofield, BBC News, Paris

Listen to the words

dairy cattle
cows used for milk products

pastoral bliss
perfect happiness in the countryside

get lost

the constant chiming
the frequent ringing sound

when problems are taken to court for a legal decision

rustic nuisances
situations in the countryside that cause problems for others

sociological face
social attitudes

someone living in a particular place

people who live in a city or town

causing anxiety or annoyance

To take away:
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