Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dozen Matter If 12 Is Significant

Why does 12 seem a significant quantity? The thought occurred to me after I counted to 12 in one of my exercise stretches that I usually count to 10. I then thought about terms and expressions that include "12" or "dozen".

The association between twelve and dozen are numerical meaning. From Online Etymology Dictionary,
from Old French dozaine "a dozen," from doze (12c.) "twelve," from Latin duodecim "twelve," from duo "two" + decem "ten".

Some Familiar Expressions that Refer to Dozen

a dozen eggs (in a carton)
from New York Times
Under a system that came to be known as English units, which was a combination of old Anglo-Saxon and Roman systems of measurement, eggs were sold by the dozen. It made sense to sell them that way because one egg could be sold for a penny or 12 for a shilling, which was equal to 12 pennies. That system held sway in the American colonies and persisted after the revolution, becoming part of the system known as U.S. customary units.
Why are Eggs Sold by the Dozen?
from fresheggsdaily
The number twelve has had special significance for man since the ancient times, from Jesus' twelve apostles to twelve full moons per year and twelve months in a year. There are twelve inches in a foot and twelve hourly divisions on a clock. There are twelve zodiac signs, twelve tribes of Israel and twelve Knights of the Round Table.
In Western Europe, particularly England, from as early as the 700s and continuing right up until around 1960, the Imperial Unit System was used. Under this system, there were twelve pennies to a shilling, likely because of the huge importance of the number twelve to civilization. This meant that an egg could be sold for a penny, or a dozen eggs could be sold for a shilling, with no change-making required.
cheaper by the dozen
from YourDictionary
"Things are handled more efficiently as a group, rather than individually." This expression is best known as a book and movie about a couple that has 12 children.
The Dirty Dozen
from IMDB
Another movie, this one about a US army major and 12 convicted murderers to assassinate German officers in World War II.
a dime a dozen
from knowyourphrase
copious newspapers from that time (1800s) advertised how certain kinds of food, like eggs, oranges, and peaches, were available for purchase by the dozen, and their cost was nothing more than a single dime
baker's dozen
from The Phrase Finder
the practice of medieval English bakers giving an extra loaf when selling a dozen in order to avoid being penalized for selling short weight
Maybe somewhat surprising, no national chain claims the name for baker's dozen. I found four independent shops with the name—all donut-themed.
Six of one or half a dozen of another
from Programmer Interview
“6 to one half dozen to the other” is a phrase that’s used to basically say that the 2 options you have are essentially the same. Since a dozen is 12, and half a dozen is 6, then it should be clear that 6 and half a dozen are basically 2 different ways of saying the same exact thing.
a gross of items, related to dozen—144, which can be 12 x 12 configuration/grid. From The Word Detective
The use of “gross” as a noun to mean “twelve dozen” (144) of something arose in English in the 15th century, drawn from the French “grosse douzaine” meaning “large dozen.”
In the 14th century, English adopted the Old French term “grossier” (from the Latin “grossarius,” wholesaler) as “grocer,” meaning a merchant who buys and sells “by the gross,” i.e., in large quantities.

About Time and Twelve

12 hours on a clock, most common display for number of hours, whether analog or digital—
The 24hourtime.info history section describes timekeeping and devices, 24 hour displays being the initial standard.
The origins of our 24 hour day can be traced back at least 4000 years, to ancient Egypt and Babylon, and perhaps further back in time. The Egyptians and Babylonians divided the parade of stars that appeared in the sky each night into 12 sections, marked by the various stars that rose and set that night.
Gradually the 12 hour dial became used for most standard clocks, and the 24 hour dial was reserved for the more esoteric, technical, or complex clocks.
12 days of Christmas and related Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night
from A Company of Fools
'Twelfth Night' is usually considered to be a reference to Epiphany, or the twelfth night of the Christmas celebration (January 6), as in the popular song “Twelve Days of Christmas”
12 months in a year
from Calendar Origins
Ultimately, all calendars began with people recording time by using natural cycles: days, lunar cycles (months), and solar cycles (years). ... The Ancient Egyptians are credited with the first calendar of 12 months.
12 signs of the Zodiac WRT ecliptic
from Space.com
ecliptic, the apparent path the sun appears to take through the sky as a result of the Earth's revolution around it. … Because of the Earth's yearly revolution around the sun, the sun appears to move in its annual journey through the heavens with the ecliptic as its path. … Twelve constellations through which the ecliptic passes form the Zodiac.
12 years in the Chinese Zodiac
from Time
Because the Chinese calendar is based on the moon's rotation, the new year can occur anytime from mid-January to late February. According to legend, the calendar was created by Ta Nao, a minister of Emperor Huang Ti's, and has been used in Asia since 4000 B.C. … After 12 years, the cycle restarts, matching the length of Jupiter's solar orbit.

Untimed 12

12 inches to the foot
from Fact Monster
In the 14th century, King Edward II of England ruled that 1 inch equaled 3 grains of barley placed end to end lengthwise.
12 disciples, and other biblical references to 12
from patheos
There were 12 tribes in Israel and this symbolizes the completeness of the nation Israel. Jacob had 12 sons which were the heads or fathers of each of the 12 tribes of Israel which are likened to 12 princes. ... Jesus chose 12 disciples who later became the 12 apostles which seem to fit the context of the number 12 used elsewhere in the Bible as this number also signified governmental rule or authority.
"12th of Never", recorded by Johnny Mathis and the group Earth, Wind & Fire


An Oddball Connection to 12

In my online travels for this article, I encountered a site, "Printable Paper Graph Paper", where you can print grid paper, including 10 x 10 or 12 x 12 to the inch. This site could be very useful for students who graph images. The top level "Free Paper" site shows numerous other printable offerings.

2 comments:

Woody Lemcke said...

Thanks Wanda, you wonder about some very interesting things!

whilldtkwriter said...

Thx for comment! Heh, topics often pop up when I have a singular thought and scribble it down. Then related items pop up in streams of consciousness. Often, no telling what I'll encounter that inspires me to blog about it. :-)

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