Etymology and George Osborne


George Osborne is delivering the UK Budget speech in Westminster this afternoon.  Why is the minister in charge of the UK Treasury called the Chancellor of the Exchequer?   An interesting book which I have just read, Mark Forsyth's The Etymologicon, provides the answer.  Persia was ruled by shahs.  This word came into Vulgar Latin as scaccus and then into French as eschec, and then into English as chess - after all chess is a game of kings.  

Henry II did his accounts on a board that looked like a chessboard - an Escheker in French (most of the English ruling elite spoke French at this time).  Thus the finances of Britain are controlled by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.  According to Forsyth, the "S changed to X through confusion and foolishness".

 

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