Acre / perch

October 30, 2008

It’s interesting to see how definitions of land measurements bear such strong historical marks, like this from Blount’s Glossographia:

Acre (Sax. Aeker) is a certain quantity of land, containing in length 40 Rods, Poles or Pearches, and sour in breadth, or to that quantity, be the length more or less, And, if a man erect a new Cottage, he must lay four Acres of land to it after this measure, ordained by Stat. 31. Eliz. ca. 7.

A ‘pearch’, or perch, is (from the OED)

II. A measure of length, etc.

2. Originally: a rod of a definite length used for measuring land, etc. Later: a measure of length used esp. for land, fences, walls, etc., varying locally but later standardized at 5 yards, or 16 ft (approx. 5.03 m). Also called lug, rod, pole. Now chiefly hist.

The language of measurement and by extension (in this case) property, like most other language, is not future-proofed.

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