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A bark for a mark, a holler for a dollar, a sound for a pound and a tune for... - Many a mickle maks a muckle

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January 25th, 2008


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05:17 pm - A bark for a mark, a holler for a dollar, a sound for a pound and a tune for...
OK, let's intersect the history of currency with the euphonic joy of silly-sounding words.

There are several instances where multiple currencies around the world use different currencies with the same name, or a very similar name. I might hazard a guess that some of these occur for colonial or imperial reasons, others due to other historical accidents of common linguistic background. For instance, not just Britain calls its currency the pound, but also countries including Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan and Syria. (*) Before the introduction of the Euro, France was proud of its franc, with currencies of similar names not just used in Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland but also in Madagacar, Mali and Rwanda. Finland and Germany both used the Mark, many South American countries have local versions of the Peso (where it's easy to hazard a guess at some sort of derivation from the Spanish Peseta), Dinars are spent from Tunisia to Croatia to Bahrain and I shall wildly speculate at historical similarities between the Albanian Lek, the Romanian Leu and the Bulgarian Lev. (Quite possibly some of these are alternate transliterations of a similar phoneme.) Let us not forget the many different Dollars out there, and respectfully smile at those countries that have changed their currency from their local Pound to their local Dollar.

(*) Digression: would it also be reasonable to compare the pound's derivation from a translation of "librae" in librae, solidae, denarii to the derivation of the old lira in other languages?

There is one other currency family I have not yet considered, though: you can spend Krona in Sweden, Krone in Denmark and Koruna in the Czech Republic. (As well as Slovakia.) I mention this because I was delighted to recently learn that the currency of Estonia is the Kroon. If the k-sound is considered amusing in the English language, and words ending in -oon have some jollity to them (cartoon! spoon! Walloon!) then you've got to go a long, long way to come up with a better currency name than kroon in my book. No, the Vietnamese Dong doesn't beat it. Much.

The other wonderful thing about the Estonian Kroon is its abbreviation. The Great British and Northern Irish Pound is referred to as the GBP, the United States Dollar the USD, the Japanese Yen the JPY and so forth. Want some Estonian Kroons? EEK!
Current Location: Not Estonia
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: Lord Rockinghams XI - Hoots Mon

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:zarchasmpgmr
Date:January 25th, 2008 07:06 pm (UTC)
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Don't forget that the Irish used the Punt devant l'Euro.

(icon doesn't match, but I figured that since the Irish are known for their alcoholic beverages, why not use a somewhat related one?)
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From:oinomel71
Date:January 25th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
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I've spent a kroon! Ah, those heady days of Tallinn 2002... not as confusing as Latvijas lats/latu/lati, not as completely worthless as the Old Turkish Lira, not as Evro as the Greek Euro nor as Eeeuuroooi as the Finnish one, yet having an eeky charm all of its own. What is "hotel"?
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From:malachan
Date:January 25th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
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Sadly (in terms of amusement value), I think the 'oo' in 'Kroon' is pronounced 'aw'.

There's also florins/forints - I'll have to stock up on the latter soon!
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 27th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC)
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Well, that's toon it!
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From:applez
Date:January 25th, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)

Peculiar Pecuniae

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You seemed to have bipassed the Lira, both in Italian and Turkish forms (and why they share that derivation of livre, I do not know).

Additionally, it's fascinating to see the value livestock retain...from swines in Papua New Guinea for "brideprice" arrangements, to heads of cattle in Somalia for a Kalashnikov.
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From:pengolodh_sc
Date:January 26th, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
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Norway uses Krone, too - it was introduced 1873, with 4 Kroner á 100 øre being equal in value to 1 Speciedaler á 5 ort á 24 skilling. Denmark and Sweden created the Scandinavian Monetary Union the same year, Denmark replacing it's Rigsdaler with Kroner at a rate of 1:2, and Sweden replacing the Swedish Riksdaler 1:1 with Krona - it seems this change also involved switching from silver backed currency to gold backed currency. After this, Swedish and Danish kroner and øre were legal tender in both countries, with equal value. Norway entered the Scandinavian Monetary Union in 1875, which resulted in the formal abolishment of Speciedaler, ort and skilling. The union fell from use by WW1, although it apparently was not formally disbanded until 1972.

Shilling/Schilling/skilling are of course used in wide areas, too - and pennies and pfennig are related (and in Scandinavia, the word for money is penger.

Edited at 2008-01-26 03:40 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 27th, 2008 12:03 am (UTC)
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Thank you! I hadn't considered the possibility that metallic-based currency might have a name derived in some sense from the name of the metal so referenced, but it makes a great deal of logical sense.
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From:pengolodh_sc
Date:February 27th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
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While øre is derived from Latin Aurum, I do not see the name-connection between Krone and gold - krone just means crown, while gold is named "gull" in the North Germanic Scandinavian languages. It was the krone which was defined in relation to the gold - 1 krone = 1/2480 kilogram pure gold.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 27th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
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Does it seem reasonable to believe that monarchic crowns would have been sufficiently firmly associated with gold at the time for the link to be clear? I'm not sure what the crowns in Britain's Crown Jewels are actually made of, but I would be disappointed to discover they were made of, say, gold-plated silver. (Phew!)
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From:pengolodh_sc
Date:February 27th, 2008 03:08 am (UTC)
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Btw, the Austro-Hungarian Empire also used Krone (with a number of secondary spelling-variants) from 1892 onwards, replacing the earlier Gulden (forint in Hungary) - the current Czech and Slovakian currencies are descendants of it. The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes replaced it with dinar in 1920, while Hungary did not switch to the pengö until 1927. The Hungarians are the ones who ended up with hyper-inflation after WW2 - by 1946 the 100 000 000 000 000 000 000 pengö note was worthless, and the forint was introduced. The exchange-rate was 400 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 pengö to 1 forint.
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From:matgb
Date:January 26th, 2008 11:38 am (UTC)
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Pound/Livre/whatever other translation=a pound of silver

Kroon/Kroner/Crown/whatever=Crown
Franc=Also crown (king of the Francs)

Dollar=Anglicised spelling of Thaler meaning coin made in Joachimsthal.

The US called its currency the Dollar because they used a lot of Thaler coins beforehand due to a shortage of legit sterling coins.

Don't know much about E European coins, let alone non-European.
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From:citizenpsmith
Date:January 27th, 2008 06:24 am (UTC)
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An oddity is the ri(y)al; while its use in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Oman, and Iran all makes reasonable sense, you look halfway across the continent and find Cambodia using a riel. (And, of course, Spanish reals should be familiar to any reader of Treasure Island; they're what pieces of eight were eight of.)
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From:undyingking
Date:January 28th, 2008 08:56 am (UTC)
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The French franc used to be called 'livre', as well. (The Italian lira was a direct equivalent thereof, introduced by Napoleon.)

Interesting that in the early 19th century 1 pound and 1 Italian lira had the same value, yet by the late 20th the pound was worth upwards of 2000 times more. The effect that the vagaries of history can have on an economy.

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