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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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Rollicking Story of the English Language in Ottawa, Fall 2015

I will be offering my very popular history of the English language course this fall at Carleton University's Learning in Retirement Program. 

 The Rollicking Story of the English Language

Lecturer: Katherine Barber
Lecture series description: This lecture series is an entertaining survey of the influences that have shaped English vocabulary over the years, covering the Anglo-Saxon and Viking origins, the influx of Norman French and Central French, later Latin and Greek borrowings, standardization and French borrowing in the 18th century, international borrowing since the 18th century, and Canadian and American English. Linguistic developments will be linked to the social and political events with which they coincided. Topics will include why English spelling is so difficult.
Fridays, September 18th – October 23rd
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Location: Room 124, Leeds House Building
Lectures, discussions, film clips 
Fee: $130.00 (HST included)
Enrollment capacity: 55 participants  

Registration for all lecture series begins on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.
Registration details can be found on Carleton's website: carleton.ca/linr/registration/.


  1. Hi Katherine,
    Do you have a book format of this lecture series? I won't be able to cross the continent to take in this delicious sounding course!

    1. The closest thing would be my Six Words... book. Although it is not arranged chronically, it does address many of the phenomena of the history of the language.

  2. Also Katherine,

    As a dabbler in family history, I wonder if you know from which Barber branch you descend? Is it the James Barber, parliamentary hanserd, whose line hails from Sligo, Ireland (as far back as I've gotten)?

    1. sorry, no, I don't think so, though definitely Irish Barbers.

  3. I had hoped to take this, but the timing won't work for me. Rats. I hope you're coming back!

    1. That's too bad, Heather. I asked EAC Ottawa if they might be interested in promoting an evening version but have not heard anything from them.


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.