Mudcat Café message #2999474 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #132499   Message #2999474
Posted By: Howard Jones
04-Oct-10 - 01:43 PM
Thread Name: BS: Language Pet Peeves
Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
I am prepared to defend the use of "pee" for pence. It evolved quite spontaneously on decimalisation, when it became necessary to distinguish between "New Pence" (as they were then known) and the old penny, not just on paper but in speech. "One penny" was ambiguous, "one New Penny" a bit of a mouthful, so it became "one pee".

If "pence" was said in full, it was emphasised to make it clear it meant New Pence, whereas pre-decimal the emphasis was on the amount. So we lost the old contractions: "tuppence" (emphasis on the first syllable) signified 2d whereas "two pence" (with either equal emphasis or slightly more on "pence") meant 2p. Same with "thruppence". The "ha'penny" (1/2d) became "half-p"

Of course, in time people became used to the new coinage and there was less chance of confusion, but by then these usages had become established.