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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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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weighing your investment options

Here in Canada, the deadline for making contributions to our tax-sheltered personal pension plans, known as RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) is looming, so if you're Canadian, you may be thinking about your pension. “Pension” comes from a Latin word, pensus (weighed). The Romans made payments by weighing the gold or silver, so pensus came to mean a payment. When “pension” came into English in the 1400s, it was any kind of payment or wage, but it soon came to apply to a retirement payment. The first instance we have of this sense is from Cardinal Wolsey asking Henry VIII for one; shortly afterwards, he was arrested for treason. Beware of what you ask of your employer!

1 comment:

  1. Right. After crossing the Atlantic, we find out "pension" might be synonym with "entitlement".


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.