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I was reading 16th century texts with early descriptions of the Americas for a poem I am writing and came across this delightful, yet quite cryptic and arcane phrase: "log life"

but this Mappe of the discripcio of terra florida in america, haue reioysed me, there the gold &; precious stones, and Balmes are so plentifull, siluer and spice are nothing with them, no labor is in that land, log life thei haue

I would partly assume the phrase "log life" in context refers to the repetitive and brain-numbing act of the cutting of wood, which would be something I suppose pleasurable for one looking to have all thoughts whatsoever murdered into nothingness, in an "ignorance is bliss"-like way (a kind of self contradictory to the "no labor is in that land".)--(p.s. I mean no offense to any one who gets the old axe out and cuts wood). But I have to wonder if the phrase was a common expression in Elizabethan England meaning something else.

For context, the text derives from 1564, titled "A dialogue bothe pleasaunte and pietifull wherein is a goodly regimente against the feuer pestilence with a consolacion and comfort against death / newly corrected by Willyam Belleyn, the autour thereof."

EDIT: Though this question has now been marked as answered, with the answer being a mere typographical shorthand, rather than a delightful phrase like "log life" (thus making the initial question invalid)-- I am deciding to not close it, as I believe the use of "ō" representing the "on" for "long" is, at the least, an intriguing 16th-century typographical choice which perhaps might come in handy if anyone comes across this self-same oddity when reading early-modern-English pamphlets.

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    Could it be a typo for 'long life'? – Decapitated Soul Sep 27 at 5:23
  • @DecapitatedSoul I had not thought of that-- hmmm... – Tom O' Bedlam Sep 27 at 5:32
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    See updated answer with newer (2011) transcription. – Michael Harvey Sep 27 at 10:14
  • Not tree-ring dating then. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 27 at 15:12
  • I found only 1 instance of the cited extract when I searched Google Books for "no labor is in that land". And that's the one with the "OCR error" log life for long life. All the BrE versions with "no labour is in that land" seem to have it right. – FumbleFingers Sep 27 at 19:04
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Some transcriptions on the web show a bar above the o which I suspect denotes a printer's contraction. 'Long' is clearly intended. It is found twice in the text. As tchrist notes,

Use of a macron or tilde to represent an omitted nasal consonant was a customary and perfectly standard scribal abbreviation that was carried forward from manuscripts written in formal bookhands to the printed page set in movable type during the first century of books printed that way.

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A dialogue bothe pleasaunte and pietifull

However, here is a newer transcription. In the preface the editors say "It has not been thought advisable to reproduce in modern type the few contractions used by the old printer"

enter image description here

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    No, not the 14th Century. There were no printers using movable type during the 14th Century: the Gutenberg Bible itself wasn’t printed until the 15th Century in Mainz in present-day Germany, sometime in 1455. Use of a macron or tilde to represent an omitted nasal consonant was a customary and perfectly standard scribal abbreviation that was carried forward from manuscripts written in formal bookhands to the printed page set in movable type during the first century of books printed that way. – tchrist Sep 27 at 15:36
  • Why would a printer even have ō, just to shorten a four letter word to three? – marcellothearcane Sep 27 at 17:28
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    Possibly because the three letter word would fit on the line, but four letters would not. When setting up moveable type by hand, you tend to go for the "least manual work" solution to problems. Swapping two letters for one is quicker than re-setting all the following text in a paragraph! – alephzero Sep 27 at 18:22
  • The original also abbreviates "them" with a diacritic on the "e" a few words after "long", which suggests the printer was trying to save a bit of space. – alephzero Sep 27 at 18:33

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