Monday, February 27, 2006

Short Forms

By John Ross Harvey

We all know how bizarre the English language is
Silent e’s or h’s, i before e except after c
Weird rules indeed
Rules usually have exceptions too.
French make everything relate
To Masculine or Feminine traits.
Often this makes more sense than English.
But what I’m talking about is
Short forms that bear little or no
Resemblance to the Long form of the word.
At least in English.

LB=Pound. How is that possible?

The origin is in the Latin word libra, which could mean both balance scales (hence the symbol for the astrological sign Libra, which was named after a constellation that was thought to resemble scales) and also a pound weight, for which the full expression was libra pondo, the second word being the origin of our pound.

OZ=Ounce. Why use a Z?

The abbreviation for ounce is "oz". This comes from 15th century Italian, also "oz" which is an abbreviation of "onza". "Oncia" seems to be the modern Italian for ounce (although they use metric measures now, of course) and I suppose that "onza" is a variant of this. The word "ounce" comes from the Latin "uncia" or twelfth part. The ounce is a sixteenth part of a pound avoirdupois, but it used to be a twelfth part of a pound troy.

I.e. or E.g. = Example. Now, why is that?

I.e. is an abbreviation for Latin id est, "that is." E.g. is for exempli gratia, "for the sake of example." So you can say, "I like citrus fruits, e.g., oranges and limes"; or, "I like citrus fruits, i.e. the juicy, edible fruits with leathery, aromatic rinds of any of numerous tropical, usually thorny shrubs or trees of the genus Citrus." In the first sentence you are simply giving an instance of a citrus fruit; in the second you are giving an explanation. E.g. simply indicates an example; i.e. specifies, explains.

Most of the world relates to Acronyms better

CIA for Certifiably Insane Assassins
FBI for Frequently Bewildered Investigators
OPP for Overpass Parked Patrol-car

So E.G. and Lb really mess people up unless they are just accepted.

It’s not like we invented the terms now is it?

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