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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, December 28, 2014

12 Days of Wordlady: 8 Maids a-milking

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uGk6w7oaKpk/UOMnxDUnJXI/AAAAAAAAQhs/AUAYR39G1aI/s1600/8+Maids+a+Milking.jpg
Maids a-milking

There just isn't much interesting to say about "maid" or "milk".

What I do find interesting, however, is the question: Why do we call the place where milkmaids work a "dairy" rather than, say, a "milkery"?

"Dairy" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word 
dǽge (later "daie"). The very earliest meaning of dǽge was "kneader of dough; maker of bread". You can see the kinship between dǽge and "dough". Still back before the Norman Conquest, it came to designate a maid or female servant, and specifically a milkmaid. The "daie-ery" was therefore the place where a "daie" performed her duties.

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For what swans have to do with singing, click here: 
http://katherinebarber.blogspot.ca/2014/12/12-days-of-wordlady-swans-swimming.html

Why we don't say "gooses" and "gooselings: 
http://katherinebarber.blogspot.ca/2014/12/12-days-of-wordlady-geese-laying.html


For why we don't say "fiveth", "fiveteen", and "fivety", click here: 
http://katherinebarber.blogspot.ca/2014/12/12-days-of-wordlady-fifth-day.html  

For why it was OK to call the Virgin Mary a "bird", click here: 
http://katherinebarber.blogspot.ca/2014/12/12-days-of-wordlady-calling-birds.html

For what French hens have to do with syphilis, click here: 
http://katherinebarber.blogspot.ca/2014/12/12-days-of-wordlady-french-hens.html

For turtle-doves, click here: http://katherinebarber.blogspot.ca/2014/12/12-days-of-wordlady-turtle-doves.html

For what partridges have to do with farting, click here:
http://katherinebarber.blogspot.ca/2013/12/12-days-of-wordlady-partridge.html


                                                               

 

 

 


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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.