|Ask Anne: Unveiling the mystery of lb|
|Wednesday, March 28, 2012|
By ANNE DONNELL
Where did lb for pound come from? (I know that’s a preposition at the end of the sentence, but I’ll stand with Winston Churchill on this as he replied to an editor’s correction of a sentence Churchill wrote with a preposition at the end: “This is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put.”) -A Friend Who Wishes to Satisfy Her Curiosity
I’m glad to know people who know things about Winston Churchill. (Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, 1874-1965, British statesman, author, prime minister, seen as one of the outstanding figures of the 20th century for his leadership of Britain during World War II. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.” His skirmish with prepositions unnoted, but not unforgotten.)
I’m also glad to know our county Register of Deeds, John Beverly “Bev” Spickard, who hailed me in our church parking lot on a recent Sunday to give me a newspaper photograph of his dad Johnny Spickard, also Register of Deeds, former Lebanon Mayor Tex Maddox and son Buddy Maddox. And why am I getting this? Because they’re enjoying a street sign (in front of the old courthouse on the Square) which reads, “NO DOUBLE PARKNIG ANYTIME.”
I love all the happy trails language takes us on!
The answer for our erudite QP of T (Question Person of Today) follows a trail meandering through Old English, Old German, Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old Icelandic (you’d think all they said was, “Brrrrr.”), Gothic, Old High German, Middle Dutch, and Latin (pondo, originally in libra pondo, “a pound by weight”). And that’s what we really needed to know. The mystifying-to-all-children-and-some-adults lb comes from that libra.
The pound as a unit of money (a pound weight of silver – 12 ounces troy weight, uses ₤ as we use $ sign) dates back to at least 10th century, the weight (avoirdupois) of 16 ounces for a pound was a fixed rate for trade before 1377. THANK YOU for all of the last two paragraphs to Chambers Dictionary of Etymology.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. Troy weight is a system of units of mass customarily used for precious metals, gemstones, and black powder. Troy is probably from Troyes, France. Avoirdupois is French, also, means something like “goods of weight.”
Do you really want me to go on?
ONLINE DEPARTMENT – A REPEAT, BUT WHO’S COUNTING (OR WEIGHING)? “Things I’ve Learned Living in the South” (Thanks, A.A.) • A possun is a flat animal that sleeps in the middle of the road. • Almost all of the world’s reptiles enjoy living in Southern woods and waters. • There are 10,000 types of spiders. All 10,000 of them live in the South, plus a couple no one’s seen before. • The last two statements are most of the explanation for the frequency of screaming demonstrated by Southern women. • If it grows, it’ll stick ya; if it crawls, it’ll bite cha. • Onced and twiced are words. • It’s not a shopping cart, it’s a buggy! • People actually grow, eat and like okra. • Fixinto is one word, meaning, “I’m about to do that.” • There’s often no lunch, just dinner and supper. • Iced tea is appropriate for all meals, and you can start drinking it when you’re two – maybe sooner. Called the “Wine of the South,” iced tea needs a heavy addition of sugar. • Backwards and forwards means, “I know all about it.” • The word jeet actually is a question meaning, “Did you eat?” • You don’t push buttons, you mash them. • Y’all is singular; all y’all is plural. •All the festivals across the state are named after a fruit, vegetable, grain, insect, or animal. • A small shelf is all you need for spices and condiments: salt, pepper, mustard, catsup, and Tabasco©. Put your vinegar under the sink. • Often the local papers cover national and international news on one page, but require 6 pages for local high school sports, the motor sports, and gossip. • Everyone you meet is Honey, Sugar, Miss ____, Mr. ____ (first names in the blanks). • Any real Southerner knows a hissy fit is; most know how to have one. • You can start driving whenever your mama says you can.
BW (Bigtime Word) philomath – a lover of learning. Yep, if you made it through today’s column you have definite philomathic tendencies. Squish ‘em with a plate of fried food and some TV reality show.