Saturday, August 25, 2007


On Bilbo's post, he's been blogging about reading. On Amanda's, I responded about discipline. All this got me thinking about word origins. I've always loved finding out about how certain words or phrases came to be. I think that is is interesting that some words started out as acronyms. Scuba, for example--from Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Or laser--Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

When things get messed up, we may say that we've hit a snafu. Snafu is from Situation Normal, All Fouled Up (although I don't think that fouled is the original "F" word that was used!). That reminds me of another one.

It really wasn't until that mid 19th century that prisons as we know them came into existence. Until then, prisons were primarily for political purposes and housed those that were rebellious to the King or present form of government. Criminals were punished quickly and publicly for their crimes against society and everybody would then know of their particular crime. An adulterer may find himself (or herself) in the stocks on the town square with his (or her) crime written for all to see--For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, now one of our more vulgar words.

Manure, used as a fertilizer, was dried, bagged and shipped in the holds of barges and steamboats along our country's rivers. All was well until the bags started to get wet. Then the once dry manure would rehydrate and begin to form methane gas. The smell was the least of the problem. When the crew would enter the dark hold with their lanterns the trapped methane would explode. After many deaths and damaged vessels, the cause for these explosions was discovered and then to keep the manure from getting wet it was labelled--Ship High In Transit.

Imagine with me what it would have been like to live without the media that we have today. What if the only way to spread news was by word of mouth. No books, no newspapers, no television, no radio, no internet. It was once like that. Travellers and merchants would share news that they picked up on their journeys and a place where roads intersected was a place where much information was shared. At the rare place where three roads came together, all kinds of information was exchanged. I'm sure that plenty of it was very useful information. However, most of it, though interesting, was mostly useless. This useless, interesting information was given a name; a name that would indicated the source of the information. And where did it come from? From that place where the three (Tri) routes (Vias) intersect.

That information, like the information in this post, is just trivial information!


1 comment:

Amanda said...

The trivia in this post has been most interesting!

Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. I think you are right about the baby teaching me about something funny.