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Jul 24

Latin Roots 8: "Verto, vertere, verti, versum" - to turn

In this post, we have reverted to an examination of another productive Latin root, verto. This root means "turn" and it is the basis of a large number of derived forms which have also entered English.

Although most English words from this root entered the language via Latin, the root can be traced back even further to a Proto-Indo-European root *wert- meaning "turn, bend". In Germanic languages, the meaning of this root evolved to "turns of fate", and what things...

Jul 11

Consonant Clusters 24: "Tr-" (Advanced)

Whether trotting along trails or trudging across tracks, the traveller is likely to encounter the consonant cluster tr-.

Through a number of different sources, English has accumulated dozens of words beginning with tr- that pertain to travel.

Should traipsing the countryside on foot not appeal, you could opt for one of the...

Jul 5

Latin Roots 7: "Mitto, mittere, misi, missum" - to send, to let go (Advanced)

A large number of English words can be traced back to the Latin root mitto and its derived forms. Mitto means "send, send forth, let go", and also "abandon".

In the daughter languages of Latin, the meaning is primarily "put" as in French mettre, Italian mettere, Catalan metre and Spanish and Portuguese meter. The mission of this blog post is to transmit information about this root to a wider public!

It would be...

Jun 12

Consonant Clusters 23: "Dr-" (Advanced)

The dr- cluster fronts hundreds of words in English, but one of its main uses is with words to do with liquid. Babies and toothless old crones dribble and drool when taking food and drink. If you get caught in the rain, you are liable to get drenched, though you have more chance...

Jun 7

Consonant Clusters 22: "Bl-" (Advanced)

When it comes to consonant clusters carrying implicit meaning, bl- is a beauty. Sometimes it conveys the idea of contained liquid under pressure, blooming and bloating. A second meaning implies colour, especially in connection with the eye - an organ filled with compressed fluid - which is coloured and sees in colour.

Eyes...

May 23

Latin Roots 6: "Porto, portare, portavi, portatum" - to carry

The Latin root porto has given English a multitude of words. The word means "carry" and this important root is present in some of our most common words.

When we go travelling abroad, we all need a passport and if we are feeling rich we may hire a porter to carry our portable luggage.

Every second, goods are imported from other countries and exported abroad, a fact of very...

May 6

English Surnames 3: Cooper

A cooper is a maker or repairer of barrels and other wooden casks and containers.

The name has many similar sounding cognates in European languages. In Friesian, the language of the Friesian Islands to the north of the Netherlands, the word is "kuper". In Dutch, it is "kuiper" , while in German it is "der K├╝fer".

Cooper is believed to come from the Latin word "cupa", which denotes a tub, or a cask, and is also the source of the English...

Apr 13

Consonant Clusters 21 "Str-" (Advanced)

The consonant cluster str- often denotes a one dimensional object that is flexible, or at least, not stiff.

Str- is the cluster involved when you strum the strings of a guitar, when you strap yourself into your seat or when you tear strips off the person who makes your angry.

There is a lot of suppleness involved in the straining and...

Mar 25

Consonant Clusters 20: "Sm-" (Advanced)

The consonant cluster sm- often applies to spread contact with a surface.

Sm- usually involves pressure: when wood is smoothed down, the whole of the surface has been rubbed.

Sm- presses close, but then opens out: if you smear something on a surface, you spread the...

Mar 8

English Surnames: 2. Potter

A potter is a skilled craftsman who makes ceramic objects.

Clay is shaped by the potter and then fired in a kiln, a special type of oven, which removes all the water from the clay. The firing of the pottery strengthens and hardens the clay, setting the objects within the kiln into a fixed shape.

Pottery is an ancient art - it is believed to have originated in the...