Re: Like I mean: "Grammar Stinks."

Subject: Re: Like I mean: "Grammar Stinks."
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2002 16:06:14 -0700

Doc wrote:

Hi --
Don't forget that the ampersand "&" is the abbreviation of "Et" Latin for
"and". Also the "Y" in Ye Olde Codger Shoppe is actually a letter called the
"thorn" which is an abbreviation for the "th" diphthong and should be
pronounced that way.

I'm not sure when the ampersand came into use, but I think it may have been the Renaissance, when printing started to take off.

I suspect that "y" replaced thorn either out of ignorance or because it was the standard letter that most nearly resembled thorn.It was used in Old English, and seems to have faded out of English some time in the fourteenth century or so.The character sets of most fonts now include one version of thorn,however; it resembles a "p" with an ascender added (another version resembles an "o" with a curving line rising from the left side of the bowl of the letter, with a cross bar like a "t."

The letter thorn is best known for the oath "by oak and ash and thorn" in some medieval ballads, as well as in Kipling's poem.What does the oath mean? Simple. The words are actually the old names of the letters that spell "oath." Presumably, in an age when illiteracy was the norm, spelling was considered something magical - a bit of a change from the current status of tech writers.

But to return to abbreviations: now that I think, I seem to recall that, about 45 CE, the freedman of the Emperor Claudius developed a complex system of abbreviations to communicate with each other as they ran the empire. Also, the Roman orator Cicero around 60 BCE had a trusted slave librarian who developed a shorthand that may have been a form of speed writing.

Going back another millennium and a half, many Egyptian hieroglphics also had abbreviated forms. Obviously, the practice has flourished whenever lack of space or a need for speed existed.

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177

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