01-04-11, 11:17 AM #1
Should Etymology be a school subject?
1. The origin and historical development of a linguistic form as shown by determining its basic elements, earliest known use, and changes in form and meaning, tracing its transmission from one language to another, identifying its cognates in other languages, and reconstructing its ancestral form where possible.
2. The branch of linguistics that deals with etymology
The little I know of etymology I gained in the study of Latin at school.
I wasn't very good at the language, but I always loved the way words in this old language had found new life in English.
I wish I had studied Etymology as a subject, because then I would have had knowledge of how Greek, French, Indian, and other languages impacted on the words that we use.
Why isn't it a school subject?
01-04-11, 12:07 PM #2
Hmm, it probably should be a subject. But more as an extra thing.
I guess it's not a subject because it isn't that 'important'. There's no job nor carrier where you'll be needing this.
But, I'd bet if you look around, you'll find some special school with Etymology.
It's very interesting and something you definitely should look up.
01-06-11, 08:04 AM #3
This is a really popular topic.
I wonder if I can still add a poll?
Yes! Get voting everybody. You too Toxichazard.
Last edited by Captain Kremmen; 01-06-11 at 08:11 AM.
01-06-11, 09:23 AM #4
I teach it as much as I can in a variety of subjects (mathematics, science, English, history, etc.)
01-06-11, 09:45 AM #5
Thanks for joining this very small group Walter.
Were you taught Latin or Greek at school?
I do believe that young people are becoming more intellectually stupid, and that this would help them.
I think it gives you precision in the words you use, and more understanding of what they mean.
It gives weight to the words.
I bet if you did an analysis of the words I use, there is a deficit of Greek words which would do the job better.
01-06-11, 10:08 AM #6
4 U 2 c or 4 me 2 b? This new form of words is something that confounds me as I can't keep up with many of the new variations that words are being shortened into.
01-06-11, 10:29 AM #7
01-07-11, 07:18 AM #8
01-07-11, 11:27 AM #9
01-07-11, 12:21 PM #10
01-07-11, 01:57 PM #11
01-08-11, 03:55 AM #12
We did that writing too.
With scratchy pens you had to dip into ink.
I bet you didn't make your own ink to write with.
We did. Out of powder.
Last edited by Captain Kremmen; 01-08-11 at 04:02 AM.
01-08-11, 07:13 AM #13
As I have bitterly lamented before, even though my mother was raised speaking Bohemian (we call it "Czech" today because it's easier to spell and pronounce) she studiously avoided teaching it to me. So I grew up monolingual, haunted by many unformed and unanswered questions about the weird sounds I overheard when she was talking with her relatives in the next room. (And if you've ever heard Czech you know I really mean "weird." )
I was never introduced to the idea of word origins in school--or the evolution of language at all. Fortunately Spanish was a required course in the 7th grade in Arizona 55 years ago so some new synapses were cultivated in my brain and I began to notice the similarities between words in English and Spanish. But it wasn't until high school, when I continued Spanish and hung around with friends who were studying French, German, Latin and Russian, that the whole concept of linguistics entered my head. I was so enchanted by it that I scoured the public library and learned things my teachers didn't know. By my junior year I had founded the high school linguistics club and I knew the Latin, Greek and Germanic roots of a good many of the words in a high-schooler's vocabulary.
Unfortunately etymology is still not something most people are conscious of, even people who should be. An anecdote has been floating around for years--and I have no doubt that it's still current--about a girl who had studied French and then transferred to a Catholic school where she was enrolled in a Latin class. She was having a miserable time of it. She couldn't remember simple words like manus, canis, noctem (hand, dog, night, and please forgive my atrocious grammar). Her teacher kept saying, "But you already know these words in French: main, chien, nuit." The girl looked up in total bewilderment and asked, "Are you trying to tell me that there's some relationship between French and Latin???"
I voted for Option 3, even though I think that's too ambitious a goal, because it was the closest to my own opinion. I believe every child should be taught a second language as early as possible. It's generally recognized that language learning ability attenuates with age so ideally the child should be taught two languages from birth. In my day this was thought to be a handicap and that opinion was reinforced by the intense xenophobia of post-WWII America, but today many educators regard it as an advantage.
My own point of view is that every language comes with its own way of perceiving and thinking about the world. Since most of our higher-level thoughts are formed in words, it stands to reason that the language we speak shapes the way we think. Having two languages up there allows us to reality-test the thoughts in one language against the paradigms of the other.
Last edited by Fraggle Rocker; 01-08-11 at 07:23 AM.
01-08-11, 08:02 AM #14
Etymology would definitely enliven kids' English classes and give meaning to language -- similar to researching one's ancestors.
My English class taught dreary names of things (eg, "past pluperfect tense", "subjunctive clause", etc), which, not amazingly, are only used in English classes. I worked as a technical document writer and editor for a few years and, even then, I never used those names of things.
01-08-11, 01:22 PM #15
I think that instead of etymology, there should be more of an emphasis on the study of modern foreign languages. These are infinitely more useful and, certainly in the UK where I live, not taught as much as they should be.
01-09-11, 08:43 AM #16
In what way?
Should people learn to be conversant in a number of languages, or concentrate on one?
01-09-11, 11:14 AM #17
All that, of course, as a language student at college, is just my opinion. However, I think that instead of introducing highly specialised subjects like Etymology, we should invest more hours in Maths, Science, English and Modern Foreign Languages.
01-09-11, 06:50 PM #18
One of the most important things you'll never lose is the phonetics. Almost every foreign language has a couple of sounds that are difficult for anglophones--the umlauts in German, the
tones in Chinese, the massive consonant clusters in Czech, the trilled R of most languages (for us Americans, not the Brits who say it that way themselves). The key to mastering them is to learn them when you're young and both your brain and your vocal organs are still flexible. Once you develop those synapses and those "muscle memories" they'll still be there when you need them.
The same is true of the strange grammar and syntax of another language. Trying to learn another language when you're 25 is very much harder than when you're 12, and waiting until you're 40 makes it really arduous. And just studying one opens up your thought processes to the concept that different languages have much different ways of looking at the world. Once you've studied one, the next one is much easier.However, I think that instead of introducing highly specialised subjects like Etymology, we should invest more hours in Maths, Science, English and Modern Foreign Languages.
01-09-11, 07:22 PM #19
01-10-11, 03:51 AM #20
Two views of the world. One says we should teach kids etymology in school. Another says we shouldn't even offer classes on Latin.
Truth is, the only reason to teach etymology to anyone is because they are interested in it, so it should be elective. If you want it because it helps them learn English, then it would be more cost-effective to spend that money on additional English classes, rather than an etymology course.
If the students elect to take it, though, I have no issues with that.
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