Excerpt from Word Building and Discovery™

Words belong to families the same way that people do. Often, very different-seeming words have common ancestors and roots. Let's look at an example:

duct ... reduce ... production ... introduction ... deduction ... educe ... induction ... conductivity ... transducer ... ducat ... duchy ... duke ... subdue ... abduction ... duchess ... conducive ... .traduce ... seduce ... ductile ... adductor ... inducement ... produce ... adduce ... deduce ... conduit,

and many more words.

What do the words in the list above have in common? They all come from the Latin root duco, meaning "to lead." They are therefore related but have different meanings because of their prefixes and suffixes. For example, "de-" means "from," while "in-" means "in, into or within." "Pro-" means "before, in front of or for," while "e-" or "ex-" means "from, away from or out of."

Now, this may sound complicated at first, but try to imagine the difference between having to learn and remember thousands of distant relatives' names, professions and hometowns, on the one hand, and on the other hand, only having to remember which family they descend from, and a handful of rules about how they are different. This is what etymology (the study of word derivations and families and relationships) does; while it asks you to learn some new and strange bases for words in an antiquated language, it ultimately simplifies the learning of words enormously and gives you a great deal of vocabulary development relative to a much smaller amount of learning and memorization.

In this course you will receive a list of common Latin words, their meanings and the English words that have sprung from them over the years. You will find that language is a fascinating and much more logical study than you may have formerly believed. Furthermore, the study of word families is often fun and amusing, the same way that the study of people's families can be amusing (there are always some rather exotic specimens in any family tree).

For instance, let's take the root pes, pedis. These are two Latin forms of the same word, and yes, there are more forms, but this course will not burden you with declining nouns and adjectives or conjugating verbs. We will merely list the different forms so you can see the variety and get a notion of the words derived from them. From pes, pedis, which is Latin for "foot" (and from its relative, the Greek pous, with its stem pod-), we get the following:

pedestal ... pedestrian ... pedicure ... millipede ... pedigree ... piedmont ... tripodal ... expedition ... impediment ... pedicel ... tripod ... octopus ... podiatrist ... platypus ... pedal ... podium ... pedometer ... polyp ... expedite ... polypod ... pediform ... antipodes ... monopodium ... peduncle,

and so forth.

Another example is lego, legere, legi, lectum, meaning "to choose, gather, or read," from which we get the following:

collection ... selective ... predilection ... recollection ... lectern ... elective ... intelligentsia ... selectivity ... negligent ... lectionary ... legendary ... illegibility ... legion ... sacrilege ... neglectful ... elegance ... diligently ... electorate ... lecture ... collectanea ... negligible ... prelecting ... legionnaire,

etc.

The Latin facio, facere, feci, factum, meaning "to make or do," has spawned a wealth of English words:

factor ... fact ... perfection ... defective ... efficacious ... effect ... factitious ... sacrifice ... surfeit ... fashionable ... facsimile ... feasance ... feasibility ... amplification ... sufficient ... vivify ... featured ... confection ... affectation ... benefactor ... rarefaction ... rectify ... qualification ... putrefaction ... benefit ... profitable ... modification ... artificial ... counterfeit ... notify ... forfeiture ... manufacturing ... deficit ... nullify ... ineffectual ... affection ... faction ... beatific ... confetti ... justification ... mollification ... artifact ... beneficiary ... absorbefacient ... pluperfect ... refect ... feat ... factorial ... malefactor ... defeated ... discomfit ... prefect ... misfeasance ... affair,

and dozens and dozens more.

In this course, you will practice breaking words into their component parts. We spend time going over the most common prefixes, suffixes and roots so that you become familiar with them and accustomed to seeing words etymologically.

While the handout is sizable and may seem intimidating at first, it will seem less so after a while. You will discover that it opens up vast numbers of vocabulary words to you and allows you to figure out the meaning of a word even if you have never seen it before, a skill which presents an obvious advantage during the Critical Reading and Writing parts of the SAT.

Note: we are not trying to make Latin scholars out of you, only to help you have a greater actual and potential English vocabulary. Since it is estimated by some experts that 90 to 95% of all English derives directly or indirectly from Latin, you will find this unit establishes an orderly way of developing a large vocabulary.

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