Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Map of the Areas of Influence of the Ancient Roman and Greek Languages

I created this graphic to show how the Latin and Greek languages can have such a large influence on modern English and other European languages. As you can see, the two languages were spoken throughout all of early western civilization. The Latin area corresponds roughly to the Roman Empire. The Greek area is the Athenian Empire.

The graphic is sized to fit a PowerPoint or Keynote slide perfectly. Use it for your own PPT if you want. Jsut click on it to get to the full-size version, then copy and paste it into your presentation.

If you use it please consider leaving a quick comment below. 

I created this graphic for a high school level PowerPoint presentation on etymology.
You can download a PDF of the etymology Powerpoint presentation by clicking here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What does the most common Latin root say about us?

The most common Latin root is co. This root appears in more words than any other. Literally hundreds of words. It has other forms: con, com, and col; they all mean the same thing. Together. Or, more specifically, they mean with, together, or joined.

Kind of nice if you ask me. The most common nugget of meaning, or morpheme, means together. As in community, connect, coordinate, cohabitate, concentrate, converse, complete.

By comparison, the Latin root fract, which means break, and is found in words like fragment and fracture, is not very common (there's that "com" root again) at all.

Of course, the Latin stem im occurs in a lot of words too. It means not, and it also takes the form of il or in. It is in hundreds of words. Illegal, illicit, illegitimate, immoral, indignant, inscrutable, impossible, improbable, inconsistent, inedible, incredible, and indelible, to name a few. The list is nearly infinite. But im, though common, doesn't really have any meaning of its own. Its a negative. It negates. It doesn't have substance of its own, so its frequency says less about the human condition and more about the convenience of language. It's a convenience prefix, that can easily be tacked on to the front of a word to create an opposite.