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The Words Of Dance by Katherine Barber

Have you ever wondered about the words we use for dancing? Let's start with "dance" itself. Where did it come from? Surprisingly, we don't really know for sure. It showed up in English in the 1200s, borrowed from the French, who seem (along with other Romance languages) to have borrowed it from an Old High German word dansôn (to stretch out). The sense ‘to form a file or chain in dancing’ is thought to have arisen from this meaning of "stretching". But people had danced in Anglo-Saxon England before the French arrived in 1066, despite severe moral disapproval from the church and even attempts to ban dancing. For one thing, dancing had been used in pre-Christian fertility rites. What's more,...

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