h1

Divided by a common language

March 31, 2010

Thanks to several readers from (I’m guessing) the US, who have got in touch to express surprise about the appearance of sweetcorn in the fields of Roman Britain.  They’re right, of course – maize wasn’t grown here until many centuries later, and is still somewhat temperamental, as our vegetable patch will testify.

The problem’s arisen because the word ‘corn’ means different things on different sides of the Atlantic. So just for the record, should  ‘corn’ pop up in any of the Ruso books, please read it as wheat, or oats, or barley, or any one of those cereal crops – definitely not the yellow stuff you smear butter on and eat off the cob, or feed to cows.

At a slight tangent, another reader was concerned to find the ‘modern Americanism’ of measuring in feet and inches. In fact, while we Britons have  gone over to metric measurements (although some of us still have to think very hard about it), the USA continues with a fine and ancient tradition. The Roman foot (‘pes’) was slightly shorter than the modern one but it certainly contained twelve inches (‘unciae’).

To anyone else who’s been wondering, I hope the books make a bit more sense now.

About these ads

3 comments

  1. Ahh! That explains something. My wife and I were watching Campion on NetFlix the other day, and Campion mentioned that one of the murder victims was found in a corn field. However, it was plain to see that he was in a wheat field. I thought it was just one of those mistakes that city folk make.

    Mark


    • OK, I have to admit that for a long time I thought a ‘wrench’ was a special and vaguely exotic piece of equipment that existed only in America…


  2. Lindsey Davis received the same American complaints about ‘corn’, and replied on her Web site in her usual forthright manner.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 112 other followers

%d bloggers like this: