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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $9.99

Electronic Text


Publication date:
May 2013

Imprint: Oxford University Press

Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs (Kobo)

and Other Fascinating Facts about the Language from Canada's Word Lady

Katherine Barber

Did you know that the word "travel" is derived from an instrument of torture? That "tragedy" originally was something to do with goats? That "grammar" and "glamour" started out as one and the same word? These and many other fascinating and surprising tidbits about the history of words are revealed in this delightful volume, many culled from interviews first aired on CBC Radio 1, featuring the "Word Lady," Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, Katherine Barber.

In the lively, witty, and entertaining style that has won her so many fans in Canada and around the world, Katherine distills the rich information contained in the immense Oxford English Dictionary to create intriguing and entertaining little histories of hundreds of the most common (and interesting) words in our language.

The words are arranged thematically by season. Readers can frolic through the many words from the barnyard, the garden, and the cottage in the Spring, feast on Summer's fruits and all of the colourful stories to be found there, gear up for back-to-school by learning the truth behind algebra, grammar, and dunces, and discover the real reason that Christmas shopping is always such a feverish pursuit. Along the way, you'll follow words back through Old English, medieval French, Anglo-Saxon, ancient Greek, Latin, Arabic, as well as the languages of China, the Indian subcontinent, and Canada's Aboriginal peoples.

With its accessible conversational style and captivating content, Katherine Barber's Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs is a book readers will want to dip into time and again - that is, if they can ever put it down.

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Raised in Winnipeg, Katherine Barber attended the University of Winnipeg and the University of Ottawa. Her first job working on a dictionary was with the Bilingual Canadian Dictionary project at the University of Ottawa. In 1991, she was recruited by Oxford University Press to head up their newly-created Canadian dictionary department.
Being Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary has also brought unexpected fame to Katherine Barber. From the moment the project was announced, she has been conducting radio and television interviews, and for the last few years has had a regular spot on CBC Radio's "Metro Morning" show in Toronto.

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