How The Age of Discovery Affects Modern Communications
Language is an important part of communications, perhaps more so in business today since we have fewer opportunities to interact directly with people and absorb additional communication information through body language. What’s interesting is how our modern business language has adopted popular vernacular from history and in particular, the age of discovery when Britannia Ruled the Waves.
The British Empire, indeed the Commonwealth was established by Great Britain’s naval prowess reaching back to the 14th century and many phrases in today’s language are taken directly from the British sea faring experience more than 500 years ago. Take a moment to check out the etymology of these phrases and words we commonly use today, but, who have their origin s in the sea faring history of the British Empire.
Slush Fund: when the fat separated from slated meat it was stored and sold as a water-repellent by the cook to make a little extra money
Chewing the Fat: they would take their stored meat provisions out of slushy water and sit around talking while they tried to digest this food
Square Meals: food on ships was served on square plates
Grog or Groggy: this came from a waterproof fabric known as “grogram” a blend of silk, mohair and wool stiffened with gum
Learning the Ropes: clearly references to understand how ropes on ships were to be handled
Pipe Down: in the evening a bosom might sound the pipe to order the men below deck
Hand over Fist: this, of course would refer to pulling ropes as quickly as possible
Sloppy: this was derived from the rough clothes that seaman wore when they hauled in the ropes
Hard and Fast: this was when a ship was safely beached on dry land
By an Large: this is when ship makes progress against the wind
Get Under Way: this is comes from t a ship beginning to move forward
Taken Aback: the wind has changed and is blowing from the wrong side
Bearing Up: turning a ship into the wind
Edging Ahead: a ship’s gradual progress against the wind
The Bitter End: this when an anchor rope was at its very end
Chock a Block: when all the blocks and tackles were used to hoist the sails
Lark or Larking: when midshipmen learned the art of skilled top men as a form of recreation
There are many others, almost too many to mention including: batten down the hatches, wide berth, high and dry, press gang, taking the wind out of your sails, loose cannon, close quarters, cut and run, fathom and many more. I wonder what words and phrases will survive into the future from the digital age?