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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, September 2, 2011

Back to ... leisure?

Unlikely as it may seem to those returning to classes next week, the word “school” originally meant “leisure”. The highly cultured ancient Greeks loved spending their leisure time (skhole) hanging out with Socrates and Plato discussing philosophy, so their word meaning “leisure” gradually came to apply to such discussions and then to the place where they happened. By the time the word got to English via Latin, it was written scol. The letter h was reintroduced in the Renaissance only because people wanted to show off that they knew the original Latin and Greek spelling.

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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.