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Hey, Matthew:

I've been a long-time fan of your work, particularly the literary devoice of the Elves and Grandma. Here's my two-part question. Why is a baker's dozen actually 13? I'm guessing something along the lines of a promotion ("Don't buy from my competitor; I'll give you one for free.") And why does the number 12 have it's own special term ("dozen")? What's wrong with the number 15, for example. It could be called a squerble or some such thing.

-- Christopher White, the net

Literary devices? Grandma? The elves? We're shocked and appalled! Grandma's boo-hooing into her apron again. The elves are doing one-potato, two-potato to see who gets to kneecap you. They'd hit you somewhere else but that's as high as they can reach. I'm in such a huff, I refused to answer you. So this information comes from some bloke the elves pulled off the street who, as far as we can tell, doesn't know his ass from his elbow. We're not responsible for any damages that may result to you if this is pure bunk. The street stranger says your story about "baker's dozen" sounds good to him. Lucky guess on your part, I'm sure. As for "dozen," well, he didn't have a clue and left to call a cop. Turns out, the word is from Latin, via French, the word for 12. And 12 became a standard count in commerce because the quantity can be divided evenly in half, in thirds, and in quarters. If I wanted half a squerble of eggs, you'd be required to count out seven eggs, scramble the eighth, and pour half of it into a to-go cup. Now you go too, until that attitude changes.

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