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Shatments
Posted: 03 December 2013 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I recently saw this video by Matt Parker, giving details on the relationships between various imperial units.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7x-RGfd0Yk

Here is the transcription of his words, as shown on screen:

“.. a cubit divided into thirds gives you a shatments, Why wouldn’t you call something a shatments? If you take five shatments you get a pace...”

This seems to correspond to what he is saying.

Reading this, you would think that shatments would have to be the singular and the plural.

References to this video are now all over the internet so if you google “shatments” you will end up looking at Matt Parker’s words.

I can’t find this word in the OED or in other dictionaries. I’ve tried alternative spellings (shatmence, chatments, eschatments.

Probably the closest is escheatments, which doesn’t refer to a unit of length.

Any clues? Did he just make it up as a dare that he could popularise a nonsense word?

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Posted: 03 December 2013 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I interpreted his spelling of the unit as ashatment.

I too can find no reference to such a unit.

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Posted: 03 December 2013 11:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Probably shaftment.

OED defines (and also marks as obsolete)

The distance from the end of the extended thumb to the opposite side of the hand, used as a measure = about 6 inches.

(Courtesy of a comment on the YT video)

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Posted: 03 December 2013 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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That’ll be it. Cheers.

Seems he is not pronouncing it right.

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Posted: 03 December 2013 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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OP Tipping - 03 December 2013 02:45 PM

That’ll be it. Cheers.

Seems he is not pronouncing it right.

and does he pronounce ‘pica’ right?

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Posted: 03 December 2013 11:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I watched this denunciation of non-decimal systems of measurement, and though it tiresome and silly (been there, heard that, ad nauseam). The speaker’s use of the expression “shatment” indicates that he’s only a superficial knowledge (if that) of what he’s talking about. He should feel comfortable in politics, where there are lots of other similar characters.

The following description of a “shaftment” is from a valuable, and very informative, website. The people who operate it have a very good idea of what they’re talking about.

shaftment
an old English unit of distance equal to 2 palms. A shaftment is the distance from the tip of the outstretched thumb to the opposite side of the palm of the hand. The ending “-ment” is from the old English word mund, hand. The shaftment was an important unit in Saxon England, where it was equal to about 16.5 centimeters (6.5 inches). After the modern foot came into use in the twelfth century, the shaftment was reinterpreted as exactly 1/2 foot or 6 inches (15.24 centimeters). The shaftment continued in common use through at least the fifteenth century, but it is now obsolete.

http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/index.html

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Posted: 04 December 2013 04:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Just a quick comment: A hearer’s interpretation of spoken shaftment as shatment(s) does not necessarily imply that the speaker doesn’t know what he is talking about.  The /f/ could easily have been lost in the transmission of the sound.

Edit:  I listened to it and I still wouldn’t blame the transcription on the speaker.  One might think that he should have had editorial control but that’s not necessarily the case.  OK, I’m definitely not hearing the F.

[ Edited: 04 December 2013 04:35 AM by Faldage ]
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Posted: 04 December 2013 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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His knowledge does appear to be superficial. He’s mixing up units used for different purposes in different eras and trying to weld them together into a “system” that never actually existed.

Plus, is three barleycorns equals one inch any less arbitrary than one meter equals 1,650,763.73 wavelengths of the orange-red emission line in the electromagnetic spectrum of the krypton-86 atom in a vacuum?

(I’m not saying the metric system, with its divisions by ten, isn’t more practical, just that his argument is nonsense.)

Although nice find on shaftment, Aldi.

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Posted: 04 December 2013 08:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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He’s mixing up units used for different purposes in different eras and trying to weld them together into a “system” that never actually existed.

Exactly so.  Only a few of the units of which this man speaks actually belong to the Imperial system. If, as OP Tipping says, this drivel is all over the Internet, the asshole’s misleading people on a large scale. As I said, he belongs in politics.

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Posted: 04 December 2013 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Plus, is three barleycorns equals one inch any less arbitrary than one meter equals 1,650,763.73 wavelengths of the orange-red emission line in the electromagnetic spectrum of the krypton-86 atom in a vacuum?

You realize that definition is obsolete too, right?  For the last two decades or so, the definition has been
“The metre is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second,” which is obviously much more intuitive.

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Posted: 04 December 2013 09:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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[edit: deleted, because I realized what I said here was totally wrong]

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Posted: 04 December 2013 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Darn: I realized my blunder a few seconds after posting and tried to delete it ASAP, but was not quick enough to beat the Dr.

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Posted: 04 December 2013 09:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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The creators of South Park are Trey Parker and Matt Stone.  Whatever else the Matt Parker who made this video may have done, creating and producing South Park isn’t in it.

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Posted: 04 December 2013 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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That’s a forgivable error. I once ran across an article in a peer-reviewed journal that attributed the Federalist Papers to Alexander Madison.

(To be fair, it was a journal on Shakespeare, with a British author and editor. One can’t expect them to be up on the details of American history; unlike the journal on rhetoric that had an article talking about “quotations from both Tully and Cicero.")

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Posted: 06 December 2013 01:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I am sure Fred Tully was quite the raconteur.

On the topic of the video…

I am certainly of the opinion that SI (metric) is superior to the Imperial units. a) The units are more regular. b) The powers of 10 are easier to remember and mentally compute with than, say, 5280. c) There is greater consistency between different kinds of units in SI. e.g. a joule is 1 newton metre, whereas a calorie is 3.08596 pound feet. It is an integrated system, whereas the Imperial units are best thought of as a bunch of independent systems cobbled together under one label.

Having said that, this Matt Parker is reaching. By including a bunch of long obsolete terms he’s overstated the case, which is probably counterproductive if his goal is to convince Americans to make the switch.

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Posted: 06 December 2013 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I was looking up the definition of “pottle” in a mincemeat pie recipe when I stumbled on this handy chart of English distance measurements and their relationships.  It’s all in here: shaftments, paces, and cubits as well as fingers, palms, hands, and feet.  Makes a nice illustration for the case that English measurements are messy.

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‹‹ Modern "Latin"      BL: shrewd, shrew ››