Useless, But Interesting, Information
Early journalism is responsible for many phrases still used today. Some examples include:|
- Mind your "P's" and "Q's": Prior to the invention of the Linotype machine in 1883, type for newspapers and books had to be set by hand, letter by letter. Type had to be laid in the tray, called a "magazine", one by one, upside down and backwards. A lower case "p" would look like a lower case "q" if it wasn't placed upside down and backwards.
- Stereotype: The stereotype printing plate process was originally invented in 1725 in France. A trained apprentice would take the tray of completed type, pour a mixture of plaster and made a mould from it. Then hot metal was poured into the mould and allowed to set. Once set, the finished product was a duplicate of the original. For larger press runs, several sterotype copies were made from the same mould. Each being idential to the others. Thus began the use of the word "stereotype" to mean all having the same attributes.
- Layman: One of the major industries in the 1600's and 1700's was the making of paper. Three key people were used in the process of paper making. The two most skilled worker titles were "vatman" and "coucher". The least skilled, and thus received the lowest pay, was called a "layman". Thus, the origination of the word "layman" to mean an unskilled or uneducated person.
- Can't hit the broadside of a barn": From the invention of the printing press in the 1500's and into the early 1900's, posters were called broadsides -- meaning printed on one side only. Traveling shows, such as a circus, had broadsdes printed to promote their coming to a town. These broadsides were plastered all over the county on the sides of barns for the farmer and his family to read. Boys would often use these broadsides for target practice. The phrase originally was "Can't hit the broadside ON a barn". As the term "broadside" faded out and into the word "poster", the phrase was changed to "Can't hit the broadside OF a barn".