Welcome to the Wordlady blog!

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.
You can also order my best-selling books, Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to do With Pigs and Only in Canada You Say. Fun and informative!


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Monday, August 18, 2014

Rollicking Story of English: Kitchener-Waterloo

RIM Park
Manulife Financial Sportsplex
2001 University Avenue Waterloo

The Rollicking History of the English Language

Why is English spelling so chaotic? Why do we have so many synonyms? What might your name tell you about the history of the language? What is the history behind your favourite language pet peeve? This course is a highly informative and entertaining survey of the influences that have shaped English vocabulary over the years. We will tie linguistic developments with the social and political events with which they coincided. Forget your dull high school English classes as Katherine Barber takes you on a surprisingly hilarious trip through a crazy language.

Katherine Barber is known as “Canada's Word Lady” for her frequent and popular media appearances discussing matters of language in general and Canadian English in particular. She supervised the publication of two editions of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and many other smaller dictionaries. One of the foremost authorities on Canadian English, she vivaciously and humorously communicates her knowledge and love of the history of the English language.
October 16 - Celts and Anglo-Saxons
Why we have "feet" instead of "foots" and why we use the apostrophe for the possessive. German origins of our essential vocabulary and grammar.
October 23 - Vikings
Why we wear skirts and shirts. Why the verb "to be" is so ridiculous. Blame the Vikings.
October 30 - The Norman Invasion
Why we have "pigs" in the open and "pork" on the plate. The Norman Conquest, Medieval England and the origins of chaotic English spelling.
November 6 - Renaissance English
Spelling and pronunciation don't jibe. Why is there a "b" in "debt" and an "h" in "ghost"? Why do some folks say "y'all"?

November 13 - The 18th Century
Re-examining our pet peeves. British spelling and American spelling are different. Why?

November 20 - The 19th Century to the Present
Why some people pronounce "herb" with an "h" and others without. Why Lufthansa supplies its first class passengers with "body bags".

November 27 - Canadian and American English
Have they corrupted the language? How we can be very confusing to other English speakers.

December 4 - Writing Dictionaries
Not as dull as you might think: How do new words enter the language? What do lexicographers do?


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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.