Sunday, October 7, 2012
31 Days: Day 7 — It's all Greek to me.
Hello and welcome back! What would you like to talk about today? I was thinking about another common Southern-ism—actually it was suggested to me—but I certainly don't want to offend any Rebels out there by picking on them exclusively. Listen, I grew up where, instead of y'all, they say youse (and the possessive is youse's, as in youse's car), so believe me when I say that my people are not guiltless when it comes to nails-on-the-chalkboard vernacular.
But I digress.
I know—let's learn a little Latin and Greek. Come on; this will be fun.
First, here's how you remember which is which: Greek is green and Roman (Latin) is red. We'll leave the prefixes blue so you can tell them apart from roots, even though they are also either Greek or Roman.
You probably know a few prefixes and their meanings already:
re = back
pro = forward
e = out
ob = against
ad = to or toward; near or next to
inter = in the middle of
de = down, away from
im = in, upon
Now let's learn a few Greek roots: and a few Roman roots:
photos = light visum = see
tele = distant jactum = throw
graph = write or draw positum = put or place
tropos = turn
philia = love
Now comes the fun part—putting them together:
photos + tropos = phototropic, or turning to the light.
tele + graph = telegraph, or writing from a distance
tele + photo = telephoto, or light from a distance
tele + visum = television, or see from a distance
Isn't that easy? Let's try it with a few prefixes:
ob + jactum = object, or throw against
re + jactum = reject, or throw back
Now you try a few:
e + jactum =
pro + jactum =
de + jactum =
Did you get them? If you said eject (throw out), project (throw forward), and deject (throw down or away), you're right!
Now these are a little trickier:
de + positum =
im + positum =
re + visum =
The correct answers are depose (put down from high office), impose (put upon), and revise (see or look back and make changes). Now don't try to tell me you're not enjoying this. I see that smile!
Finally, you can get silly with Greek and Roman, and I'm sure you never thought you'd hear me say that. When I was teaching my children these roots, I gave them quizzes periodically to see if they remembered what we talked about, and I offered extra credit for all the funny words they could make with the roots they knew. Maybe they'll remember a few more and leave them in the comments so people will believe I wasn't a total failure as a teacher. Here are a few I remember:
photos + philia = photophilia, or love of light
tropos + phobia = tropophobia, or fear of turning (I realize phobia wasn't covered, but I think everybody knows what it means)
tropos + jactum = tropoject, or the act of putting a spin on something thrown, like a baseball. Tropoject is what you do to throw a curveball.
As you can see, there is an almost infinite number of combinations when you begin to learn more roots. Pay attention to the words you read for a few days, and see if you spot some roots you recognize.
Be thankful ~
PS. I had a great idea for tomorrow's lesson while I was in the bathtub, but I can't for the life of me remember it now. Let's hope it comes to me.