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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, March 25, 2011

Hey, lady!

In some Christian denominations, March 25th commemorates the angel Gabriel's visit to Mary (referred to as “Our Lady”) to tell her she will be the mother of Jesus. In olden days, this was known as “Lady Day” and was until 1752 considered to be the beginning of the new year. Happy New Year! “Lady” has an interesting origin: the Anglo-Saxon word hlafdige, literally “loaf kneader”. Indeed, the Anglo-Saxons put great store by bread as a social classifier: the word “lord” comes from hlafweard (“loaf warden” or “loaf keeper”) and the word for servant (now dead) was “loaf eater”.

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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.