Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Stop Word Study over Break?


I have been explaining over break to my three college age sons the benefits of orthographic word study (poor guys!!).  I have been telling them how beneficial looking at word MEANING, STRUCTURE, RELATIVES AND PRONUNCIATION can be even at the collegiate level.

While they listened VERY politely I was not sure that they really understood my purpose until yesterday.  Yesterday, my oldest son was reading a political article in the Wall Street Journal and came across the word VOCIFEROUSLY.

Out of nowhere he asked. " so tell me Mom, how would you teach the word VOCIFEROUSLY to a group of 5th graders". With a sly smile, I pulled up a chair an got out both barrels to let him have it.

As I would in any classroom setting I asked my son, "Are there any prefixes or suffixes that you recognize on this word"? He immediately answered: LY, OUS, ER

But then he got stuck - and honestly so did I and this is WHY I love the process of word study.  He said, " Honestly, I am not sure if it is ER or FER but then what would I do with the I"?

Then the magic began, as I have done many times with my students, I took him to OnlineEtymology.com and this is what we found:

1610s, from Latin vociferari "to shout, yell, cry out," from vox (genitive vocis) "voice" (see voice (n.)) + stem of ferre "to carry" (see infer). Related: Vociferouslyvociferousness.

With wide-eyed amazement he said " I knew it had something to do with voice but did not understand the concept of "ferre" - to carry.  What we learned is that in fact "ER" is not the suffix.  The word is made from the base <vocis>  voice + the stem <ferre> carry!!!

As I would with my students, I challenged him to come up with a list of words from the base <vocis> and here are a few that he listed:

He asked about a number of other words and whether or not they were related.  I did not respond - why would I?  It was my goal to get him interested - and clearly - I DID!!!!