Oct 20

Consonant Clusters 15 "Scr-" /skr/ (Advanced)


While the cluster sc-/ sk- deals with the extension of two dimensional space, the related cluster scr- basically combines two dimensional space with one dimensional movement.

Movements are made on a surface. Surfaces can be scratched or scribbled on, but the marks that are left will be superficial...

Oct 10

Consonant Clusters 16: "Sk-/Sc-" (Advanced)

The sound /sk/ can be written both as sk- or sc- in English, but both spellings often convey the same idea of extending something that is flat or two-dimensional.

If you think of skirts and scarves, they are basically flat pieces of cloth which have been stretched out to form items of clothing. When kids sketch the sky, it is usually with extended horizontal...

Sep 16

Consonant Clusters 15: "Sl-"

Consonant Clusters 15: "Sl-"   (Advanced)

The consonant cluster sl- has two major themes.

One refers to "where solid meets liquid". At this interface, things start to slide, conditions get slippery and snow turns to slush. On slippery snow and ice, the transport needs to slide too. Hence, sleds, sledges and sleighs all have smooth runners...

Sep 8

The French and the Dutch: Our Popular Neighbours! (Advanced)

The French and the Dutch: Our Popular Neighbours!

Neighbours inspire rivalry and jealousy. Although we hear that "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence", historically, (and some would argue, even today), the English have tended to disparage their neighbours. This has meant that the English language has acquired a number of less than complimentary...

Sep 1

Consonant Clusters 14 "Tw-"

Consonant Clusters 14: "Tw-"

A number of words beginning with the cluster tw- are related to spinning, pulling or plucking.

In your leisure time, you may twang a guitar string or if you are unfortunate, tweak a muscle playing sport.

Most of the other words beginning with tw- are related to the number two, which was spelt twa in Old English and pronounced /twa:/. Twine,...

Aug 28

Latin Roots 3: Pendo/pendeo, pendere, pependi, pensum - to hang; to weigh

Latin Roots 3: Pendo/pendeo, pendere, pependi, pensum - to hang; to weigh


If you are feeling pensive about this root, it is a good idea to spend some time on this blog. Pearls of wisdom will be dispensed, depend on it!

The Latin word pendo means hang, weigh or pay and its variant pendeo carries a similar meaning. This root also carries the meaning of weigh up...

Aug 15

Consonant Clusters 13 - "Squ-" /skw/


The /skw/ sound is spelt squ- in English, and usually indicates compression. When objects are squeezed, they are squashed into smaller forms, often with a squelching sound.

The cluster is produced by compressing and squeezing the lips together, so there is a pleasing symmetry between the noise made when producing this sound and the words it denotes: another example of echoic...

Aug 4

Latin roots 2; cedo, cedere, cessi, cessum - to go; to withdraw, yield

Latin roots 2;  cedo, cedere, cessi, cessum



The Latin root ced, and its related forms cess and ceed have led to a vast number of words in the English lexicon.

One reason for this is the sheer number of meanings the word came to acquire in Latin itself. Cedo means I go, I move, but it also means go away from and this meaning led, via French, to the English word...

Jul 21

Consonant Clusters 12 - "Cr"- /kr/

The sound /kr/ is usually spelt cr- in English, and many words containing this combination indicate objects that are bent, or crooked. You may well be reading this while sitting cross-legged, you could be crouching down to get a good look at the screen, or else craning your neck upwards at an angle, like this Whooping Crane (Grus Americana) to the left. 

Make sure that you don't get a...

Jul 14




The frequentative form of a word is one which indicates repeated or frequent action. Although no longer really productive in making new words in English, historically it was a very common method of coining related words from an original stem.

In English, the frequentative forms of verbs ended in -le, or -er. For example, the verb flutter, "to move with quick flapping movements", derives from the verb...