Words change and we wonder why and when…
It may be a trivial matter but it can also be interesting.
For instance: When did castor sugar become caster sugar?
To try and discover the answer to such minor mysteries, I undertook some Google research. The following answers came from various sources and I am being naughty and not disclosing them. (Makes for boring reading!)
Research says: ‘Both are right. The spelling castor sugar used to be the prevailing one, but caster sugar seems to be more usual now perhaps because it is used by some sugar manufacturers on their packaging’.
So, castor sugar became caster sugar because some sugar manufacturer’s bag-maker perhaps couldn’t spell castor? Perhaps?
When did mandarine become mandarin?
Research says: ‘Both are correct if you are talking about a Chinese official,(a mandarin) enjoying a juicy citrus fruit, a mandarine. They are just in season in Australia now and they are always delicious.
So, in this case, I am not wrong when I refer to this delicious little fruit as ‘mandarine’. Good.
And, by the way, talking of fruit: Whatever happened to ‘Johnny’ apples – ie, Jonathan apples? and ‘snow’ apples- the ones that were white as snow inside.
Anyone know? It’s all ‘Pink Ladies’ and ‘Fujis’ now. Where did they emerge from?
Next: I thought the plural of roof was rooves, but it seems that I am either very old-fashioned or simply very OLD.
Research says: ‘Roofs is the plural of roof in all varieties of English. Rooves is an old secondary form, and it still appears occasionally by analogy with other irregular plurals such as hooves, but it is not common enough to be considered standard.
Yes, had nearly forgotten about hoofs and hooves.
And I thought it was originally ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ No?
Apparently Tolkien has something to do with it:
Research says: ‘The original editor of The Hobbit "corrected" Tolkien's plural dwarves to dwarfs, as did the editor of the Puffin paperback edition of The Hobbit. According to Tolkien, the "real 'historical'" plural of dwarf is dwarrows or dwerrows’.
I am sure there are lots of other mysterious word changes, but one last thing:
The little @ symbol:
When I was a child, we had arithmetic calculations such as:
‘How much would 3 lb… (Yes, it was still pounds in Australia when I was small).
so, ‘How much would 3 lb of apples @ 14d cost?’ (Yes, the sign for pence was for some treason stated as a ‘d’…go figure. Likewise the sign for pound was ‘lb’…ditto.
That little sign [@] was well known to us kids of many years ago, but it seems as if the modern generation think THEY invented it to enable them to use the internet.
Here are some interesting facts:
The @ is called an "atmark". Its use in internet addresses has led to the symbol known as arroba in Brazil, which is also an old measure of 15 kilos.
It is also known as a chiocciola (snail) in Italy.
In Finland it's known as a mouse's tail.
And, in Hungary, the @ symbol is called "kukatsz", which means little worm.
But the Norwegians call the @ "kroellalfa", meaning curled ‘a’.
Whatever it is called, it was not created for email addresses or for anything to do with the Internet. It has been around for centuries.
According to the Smithsonian Institute: ‘The first documented use [of @] was in 1536, in a letter by Francesco Lapi, a Florentine merchant, who used @ to denote units of wine called amphorae, which were shipped in large clay jars'.
I guess the little sign just woke up from a longish rest when emails came along.
What would we do without our little @ ?
By the way, for anyone who has been reading my previous blogs, I have to say that the wound on my finger after surgery is healing and it is no longer as painful - or awkward - to type, so maybe there will be further blogs after all. x
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.