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This blog is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Is something puzzling you? Feel free to email me at wordlady.barber@gmail.com.
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Friday, August 27, 2010

Word of the week: Hustling on the hustings

Toronto's mayoral candidates are out on the hustings drumming up support. What are hustings, exactly? And why can you never have only one of them? In Old Norse (the language spoken by the Vikings who invaded England in the 10th century), a husthing (literally “house assembly”) was a type of royal council. Eventually it came to designate a court presided over by the Lord Mayor and aldermen of London, and more specifically the platform on which they sat. Mysteriously, only the plural was used. By the 18th century the hustings were a platform from which candidates were officially announced, and from which they made campaign speeches.

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About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.