Tag Archives: English

Not all English words come from Latin…

Many of my students often have the misconception that all languages, including English, come from Latin.

Nope.  Not true.  A lot of languages come from Latin, but English is not one of them.  English is a Germanic language.

We have borrowed a ton of vocabulary from Latin.  90% of our multi-syllable words come from Latin.  This alone tells you that you can drastically increase your understanding of the English language by mastering Latin.

This probably explains why so many of our forefathers learned Latin.  It probably also explains why the designers of the public school system wanted to get rid of Latin starting in the mid-1800s  It’s hard to enslave a literate society.

An illiterate society, on the other hand… Well.  Just look around.

Even though English draws so much of its vocabulary from the deep well we called Latin, it’s not the only well English dips into.

This morning, author Tim Ferris, tipped me off to some Japanese words that have made it into our language.

Check this out: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/17-english-words-that-come-from-japanese/sushi.

My personal favorite is Kudzu.

My father, who has passed away now, was missing a leg below the knee.  Diabetes took it.

However, when my kids asked what had happened, I pointed to a nearby kudzu patch.  “See that vine over there?  Have you ever heard of a Venus flytrap?  It turns out that kudzu and the Venus flytrap are in the same botanical family.  Just as the Venus flytrap is carnivorous, so is kudzu.  Grandpa tried to take a shortcut through the kudzu patch one day.  The kudzu gobbled his leg.”

Like myself, my dad was a practical joker with a twisted sense of humor.  He couldn’t stop laughing.

My kids, however, who were young at the time, are still suspicious of kudzu.  Heh.

Which meaning?

I received this question:

My son came across a problem on Visual Latin 1 Lesson 15. On the answer sheet it says that the word “feminam” means wife and “feminas” means wives but on the vocabulary list, it is not listed. It is listed as woman.

Also, we ran into issues with “bestiarum” which means beast but on the answer sheet it says animals towards the end of the second paragraph.

Here is my reply:

I apologize for the delay. August is the busiest month of the year for me.  Finally catching up this morning…

English has over a million words in its vocabulary.  And, it is climbing at the rate of about 150 words a day, or so I have heard.  We have a word for everything.  In fact, we sometimes have multiple words for everything.

Latin, on the other hand, has a vocabulary of about 75,000 words.  Compared to English, Latin is puny, tiny, small, or itty bitty.  (See what I did there?)

Anyway, Latin words have to work extra hard.  Sometimes one word will have many meanings.  So, yes.  Bestia means beast.  It can also mean animal, creature; wild beast/animal, beast of prey in arena.  

Femina means woman.  It can also mean woman, and sometimes wife.  

I hope this clears it all up!

Olde English…

Lately, I’ve been tinkering around with Old English.  This is something I have wanted to learn for a long time.

I’ll be reviewing a book I’ve been reading on the subject this coming Friday.

Meanwhile, pronunciation has been a bit of a problem for me.

I went looking around on YouTube.  Surely, someone there could help.  After wading through some pure boredom, I finally found this.

A bit dramatic in places, but very, very helpful with pronunciation.  If you have ever wondered what Old English sounded like, check this out:

A funny collapse.

I am sadly watching Europe collapse.  Europe is home to me.  Born in Oxford, and raised primarily in England, Holland, and Germany, I can’t wait to get back.

I work hard.  In many ways, I work hard so that I can afford to go back.  I miss home.

This letter made me sad in a very happy way.  It also made me laugh.   I have a bad feeling I must be part Scottish.

___________________________________________________________________________

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved”. Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross”. The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards”. They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide”. The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender”. The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing”. Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides”.

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs”. They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbor” and “Lose”.

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be right, Mate”. Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled”. So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

Regards,
John Cleese,
British writer, actor and tall person

And as a final thought – Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC.

Thee, thou, and all that.

Words change.  Languages change.

English shifted dramatically over the years.

Here is an interesting lesson on the development of you.

http://www.english-grammar-revolution.com/history-of-you.html

Often you will hear people say things like, “I can’t read the King James Version of the Bible.  I get tired of the formal ‘thee’s’ and ‘thou’s.'”

Funny thing is, those words are not formal.  They are informal.  In Old English, you would have used those words with close friends or relatives.

Cognoscente

Cognoscente: Someone possessing superior knowledge in a particular field, usually the arts; a connoisseur, an aficionado, a discerning expert. 

I get the feeling a “cognoscente” is likely a member of the Illuminati of the art world.  Or, based on modern art purchases, perhaps the “cognoscente” is simply a gullible person with a large checking account.

Cognoscente derives from its now obsolete Italian twin: cognoscente (now conoscente).  Naturally, the Italian word comes from the Latin verb cognosco (I know). 

The Latin cognosco comes from the Latin preposition con (with) and the Greek word γιγνώσκω (gignosko) meaning, “I know.”