or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, September 14, 2007


In England, the unit of currency is the pound. Where do you suppose that came from, and how might it be related to the unit of weight by the same name, if it is?

Turns out it's from "poound of silver". Too easy.

All right, then. The first day we were in London, we ate at a place called Prêt a Manger, "Ready To Eat"; it's mostly sandwiches, very fresh and delicious but also very expensive (which is not a surprise, because everything in London is). So: is "prêt" related to Italian "presto", "quickly"?

Yeah, it is. Again, too easy.

Okay. One last try. Yesterday we were on the Thames and went past Sir Francis Drake's ship, the Golden Hind (or perhaps a replica thereof). Why exactly does "hind" mean "female deer"?

Finally, something not completely obvious! It's from Proto-Germanic "khindo", which became "hind" in the Norse tongues and "Hinde" in German, from whom we got it. It may stem from Indo-European "kemti", "hornless", because, obviously, a female deer has no horns.


Anonymous OmegaMom said...

Hm. I thought that the "pound" was for a pound of salt, like the salt that "salary" comes from...?

Thursday, September 13, 2007 10:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is me, pyramus. I'm commenting anonymously because I don't want to log in with my usename and password; I can't be sure this is a secure computer.

As for pounds of salt: nope. There used to be (a very long time ago, close on to 1250 years) a coin called a sterling, 240 of which could be fashioned from a pound of silver. A pound of sterlings, then, was quite a lot of money, and that's how "pound sterling", later abbreviated to merely "pound", came to be the unit of currency in England.

Have I mentioned how infernally expensive everything is in London? I don't know how people live there. In Boots (a huge drugstore chain) the other day, we saw the kind of contact-lens solution we use: two bottles are usually about $18.99 Canadian, which is about equivalent to £8.50, give or take. The same package in Boots? £19.99. We were completely aghast. How can anyone afford that?

Today we're in Bath. I can't do a proper blog entry (internet access is hard to come by and expensive) so this will have to do, for now.

Friday, September 14, 2007 8:28:00 AM  

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