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  1. #1
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    Default Etymology - a great way to new vocabs

    Knowing origin of word is a great way to memorize and increase ESL students' vocabulary but I havn't seen much discussions here. I am wondering if we can promote this, much like promoting idioms and sayings.

    We all have our ways of memorization. For example, the word defunct, I think of de-, as not + functioning, so it is not functioning, although etymology book will tell you de- is completely or intensively. And I interpret destitute as someone without owning a building or a house, so it is poor. And I interpret debate as 2 people fighting but keeping a distance from each other. De- is off, and bate is to beat.

    In addition, I use "matching" Mandarin and Taiwanese sounds to help me memorize English words too. For example, eon, a long period of time, should like "yi won" in Mandarin, yi is one and won is ten thousand (banzai is ten thousand years, ban is ten thousand in Japanese, same character as Chinese) and as for the word "unfettered," fetter sounds like a waste iron, a scrap metal, in Mandarin. No one uses a good iron to make a fetter, that is for sure. Fetter is a shackle.

    The concept of memorization by root and association is not new, but I am wondering if it worths thinking about here.

    Thanks.

    BMO

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    Default Re: Etymology - a great way to new vocabs

    Quote Originally Posted by bmo
    Knowing origin of word is a great way to memorize and increase ESL students' vocabulary but I havn't seen much discussions here. I am wondering if we can promote this, much like promoting idioms and sayings.

    We all have our ways of memorization. For example, the word defunct, I think of de-, as not + functioning, so it is not functioning, although etymology book will tell you de- is completely or intensively. And I interpret destitute as someone without owning a building or a house, so it is poor. And I interpret debate as 2 people fighting but keeping a distance from each other. De- is off, and bate is to beat.

    In addition, I use "matching" Mandarin and Taiwanese sounds to help me memorize English words too. For example, eon, a long period of time, should like "yi won" in Mandarin, yi is one and won is ten thousand (banzai is ten thousand years, ban is ten thousand in Japanese, same character as Chinese) and as for the word "unfettered," fetter sounds like a waste iron, a scrap metal, in Mandarin. No one uses a good iron to make a fetter, that is for sure. Fetter is a shackle.

    The concept of memorization by root and association is not new, but I am wondering if it worths thinking about here.

    Thanks.

    BMO
    I completely support your interest in etymology, and, in particular, its use in acquiring and understanding vocabulary. The largest group of words in modern English comes from Latin, through French and from Greek, through Latin, through French. Both Latin and Greek formed new words by adding prefixes and/or suffixes to existing root words. Therefore, as you have suggested, learning the meanings of those additives can be very helpful.

    We all have our ways of memorization. For example, the word defunct, I think of de-, as not + functioning, so it is not functioning, although etymology book will tell you de- is completely or intensively. And I interpret destitute as someone without owning a building or a house, so it is poor. And I interpret debate as 2 people fighting but keeping a distance from each other. De- is off, and bate is to beat.
    I agree with you about "defunct", except for the meaning of "de-" There are a number of meanings for "de-" other than completely or intensively. In many cases, de-" means the reverse or the opposite of. So defunct means the opposite of functional. The word destitute originally just meant "lacking" or "devoid" of. It comes from the reverse of "set" or "standing". I like your take on "debate".

    "Fetter", on the other hand, has Germanic roots and has no relation to iron (Latin ferrum). It is actually related to the Indo-European root "ped" for foot.

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    Default Re: Etymology - a great way to new vocabs

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork

    I completely support your interest in etymology, and, in particular, its use in acquiring and understanding vocabulary. The largest group of words in modern English comes from Latin, through French and from Greek, through Latin, through French. Both Latin and Greek formed new words by adding prefixes and/or suffixes to existing root words. Therefore, as you have suggested, learning the meanings of those additives can be very helpful.

    I agree with you about "defunct", except for the meaning of "de-" There are a number of meanings for "de-" other than completely or intensively. In many cases, de-" means the reverse or the opposite of. So defunct means the opposite of functional. The word destitute originally just meant "lacking" or "devoid" of. It comes from the reverse of "set" or "standing". I like your take on "debate".

    "Fetter", on the other hand, has Germanic roots and has no relation to iron (Latin ferrum). It is actually related to the Indo-European root "ped" for foot.
    Thanks. Two points:

    1. If de- is explained as not, then it makes more sense to me in explaining defunct, but AHD and etymoline.com both say it is intensively or completely. This is intensively discharging, performing. I think it is supposed to mean discharging one's life duties, indicating the end of life, hence dead. That doesn't make sense to me. How come different dictionaries have different explations, not in this case particularly, especially in explaining the many meanings of the prefixes of words?

    Am I allowed to explain what I think it should be to others? In other words, my own explanations?


    2. Fetter sounds like Mandarin's waste iron, phonetically- one of my ways for memorization.

    BMO

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    Default Re: Etymology - a great way to new vocabs

    Quote Originally Posted by bmo
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork

    I completely support your interest in etymology, and, in particular, its use in acquiring and understanding vocabulary. The largest group of words in modern English comes from Latin, through French and from Greek, through Latin, through French. Both Latin and Greek formed new words by adding prefixes and/or suffixes to existing root words. Therefore, as you have suggested, learning the meanings of those additives can be very helpful.

    I agree with you about "defunct", except for the meaning of "de-" There are a number of meanings for "de-" other than completely or intensively. In many cases, de-" means the reverse or the opposite of. So defunct means the opposite of functional. The word destitute originally just meant "lacking" or "devoid" of. It comes from the reverse of "set" or "standing". I like your take on "debate".

    "Fetter", on the other hand, has Germanic roots and has no relation to iron (Latin ferrum). It is actually related to the Indo-European root "ped" for foot.
    Thanks. Two points:

    1. If de- is explained as not, then it makes more sense to me in explaining defunct, but AHD and etymoline.com both say it is intensively or completely. This is intensively discharging, performing. I think it is supposed to mean discharging one's life duties, indicating the end of life, hence dead. That doesn't make sense to me. How come different dictionaries have different explations, not in this case particularly, especially in explaining the many meanings of the prefixes of words?

    Am I allowed to explain what I think it should be to others? In other words, my own explanations?


    2. Fetter sounds like Mandarin's waste iron, phonetically- one of my ways for memorization.

    BMO
    You are allowed to explain anything, but one's own etymology might be very wrong.

    Here is the entry for de- from the AHD:

    de–
    pref.
    Do or make the opposite of; reverse: decriminalize.
    Remove or remove from: delouse; deoxygenate.
    Out of: deplane; defenestration.
    Reduce; degrade: declass.
    Derived from: deverbative.
    [Middle English de-, from Old French de- (from Latin dē-, from, off, apart, away, down, out, completely, from dē) or from Old French des-, out, off, apart, away, completely (from Latin dis-, dis-, and Latin dē-).]


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Here is the entry from Webster's:

    Main Entry: de-
    Function: prefix
    Etymology: Middle English, from Old French de-, des-, partly from Latin de- from, down, away (from de, preposition) and partly from Latin dis-; Latin de akin to Old Irish di from, Old English tO to -- more at TO, DIS-
    1 a : do the opposite of <deactivate> b : reverse of <de-emphasis>
    2 a : remove (a specified thing) from <delouse> b : remove from (a specified thing) <dethrone>
    3 : reduce <devalue>
    4 : something derived from (a specified thing) <decompound> : derived from something (of a specified nature) <denominative>
    5 : get off of (a specified thing) <detrain>
    6 : having a molecule characterized by the removal of one or more atoms (of a specified element) <deoxy->

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    Default Re: Etymology - a great way to new vocabs

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork


    Here is the entry for de- from the AHD:

    de–
    pref.
    Do or make the opposite of; reverse: decriminalize.
    Remove or remove from: delouse; deoxygenate.
    Out of: deplane; defenestration.
    Reduce; degrade: declass.
    Derived from: deverbative.
    [Middle English de-, from Old French de- (from Latin dē-, from, off, apart, away, down, out, completely, from dē) or from Old French des-, out, off, apart, away, completely (from Latin dis-, dis-, and Latin dē-).]


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Here is the entry from Webster's:

    Main Entry: de-
    Function: prefix
    Etymology: Middle English, from Old French de-, des-, partly from Latin de- from, down, away (from de, preposition) and partly from Latin dis-; Latin de akin to Old Irish di from, Old English tO to -- more at TO, DIS-
    1 a : do the opposite of <deactivate> b : reverse of <de-emphasis>
    2 a : remove (a specified thing) from <delouse> b : remove from (a specified thing) <dethrone>
    3 : reduce <devalue>
    4 : something derived from (a specified thing) <decompound> : derived from something (of a specified nature) <denominative>
    5 : get off of (a specified thing) <detrain>
    6 : having a molecule characterized by the removal of one or more atoms (of a specified element) <deoxy->
    Thanks a lot. Very extensive.

    BMO

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    Default Re: Etymology - a great way to new vocabs

    Quote Originally Posted by bmo
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork


    Here is the entry for de- from the AHD:

    de–
    pref.
    Do or make the opposite of; reverse: decriminalize.
    Remove or remove from: delouse; deoxygenate.
    Out of: deplane; defenestration.
    Reduce; degrade: declass.
    Derived from: deverbative.
    [Middle English de-, from Old French de- (from Latin dē-, from, off, apart, away, down, out, completely, from dē) or from Old French des-, out, off, apart, away, completely (from Latin dis-, dis-, and Latin dē-).]


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Here is the entry from Webster's:

    Main Entry: de-
    Function: prefix
    Etymology: Middle English, from Old French de-, des-, partly from Latin de- from, down, away (from de, preposition) and partly from Latin dis-; Latin de akin to Old Irish di from, Old English tO to -- more at TO, DIS-
    1 a : do the opposite of <deactivate> b : reverse of <de-emphasis>
    2 a : remove (a specified thing) from <delouse> b : remove from (a specified thing) <dethrone>
    3 : reduce <devalue>
    4 : something derived from (a specified thing) <decompound> : derived from something (of a specified nature) <denominative>
    5 : get off of (a specified thing) <detrain>
    6 : having a molecule characterized by the removal of one or more atoms (of a specified element) <deoxy->
    Thanks a lot. Very extensive.

    BMO
    You're very welcome. :wink:

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