"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."
Friday, 19 February 2010
Hundreds and Hides
Ignoring the use of the word to mean ten times ten this is about its use as a parcel of land - an English adminstrative area larger than a village and smaller than a county. It was at one time the most basic unit of administration in the realm but its initial purpose is obscure. It may have been intended as that amount of land which could provide a hundred warriors for the king's host (the word army is a comparatively recent invention) or to cover one hundred hides of land. (The hide was a unit used in assessing land for liability to "geld", or land tax, in Anglo-Saxon England from the 7th to the 11th centuries. A very old English unit of area, a hide was of variable size depending on localation and the quality of the land. It was the amount of land to support a family, and ranged from 60 to 180 acres. After the Norman conquest in 1066 it became standardized at around 120 acres.)
Whatever it's origins, the most important aspect of a hundred by the fourteenth century was that it had its own court.
My daughter Helen commented in November 2008 in her Blog that she was now keeping a notebook of new words that she came across during her reading. "This week I bought a lovely little leather bound book to write new words in as I read them . I've added a few from "1984", but my favourite has to be persiflage (from the French persifler) which means banter." I later discovered that my older daughter, Bryony, also kept a similar notebook.
This inspired me to create a Word blog. This will include both new words, favourite words and the origins of phrases that we commonly use. A definition and some comment, perhaps even a relevant quotation, will acompany the word or phrase.
“I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me.” - Winnie the Pooh
I'm a blogger - nowadays that seems to be my main occupation and Rambles from My Chair is my main blog. I’m a retired local government executive - now studying how to survive a neurological disorder that gives me various problems but, hopefully, a whole new outlook on life and an increased sense of humour and perspective. I enjoy all manner of communication apart from the telephone and am constantly e-mailing, texting, writing postcards and letters and commenting on other people's blogs.
Scriptor Senex is Latin for Old Writer and my real name is John but I've almost forgotten that nowadays...
“He’s not so old. He’s just the age that he is, that’s all.” (Gerald Hammond)