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These actions have arcane names like braking, retting, swingling (or scutching), and hackling or heckling, but essentially they involve pounding, stripping, soaking, and otherwise separating the pliant inner fiber, or bast, from its woodier stem. It is striking to think that when we heckle a speaker today we use a term that recalls the preparation of flax from the early Middle Ages."
Author: Bill Bryson

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