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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Fascinating Stuff About The Language!

If you want to know some interesting mediaeval origins of words like "boozing" and "fed-up" and "cadging", wander over to the History Girls web site for this post:

I love word origins. I do an assignment on Shakespeare with my Year 8 classes - just an introduction - and start with "words and expressions first heard in Shakespeare". It's lovely to hear them gasp when they see how many there are, words they use every day without knowing they came from the plays of a man they assumed had nothing to offer them.  I never let them see the grin on my face, of course. One of our other English teachers makes his Year 9 students look up word meanings and origins. Some hate it, others find it fascinating, but I bet they're all very popular at Trivia nights afterwards! And can spell the words.

I remember an ESL class I was teaching one day. A student asked, quite seriously, if the word "pornography" was about pictures. And I said that all too often it was, but that the word itself had a base "grapho" meaning, "I write".

And immediately, this African boy, who had been in the country for about a year, made an association: "Graffiti!" he exclaimed.

I do love those, "Ah ha!" moments.


Hollie said...

I love reading about word origins, I used to love doing it at school. I think I was probably the only one though, haha!

Sue Bursztynski said...

And this is why you're writing a blog and reading lots and why your friends from school probably aren't. ;-) I guess it depends on how the teacher does it and who the student is. I remember one student who was in the library looking up online variants on a word - I can't recall exactly what the original was, but it might have been fool. And she said enthusiastically, "Hah! Ass, birdbrain, blockhead, dunce..." and about a dozen other words, relishing the sound of them.