Tag Archives: glossary

Master List of Greek and Latin Word Roots

This year, for the first time, I am teaching English Language Arts to a group of high school seniors. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it has been one hell of a good time. I have all but no experience teaching upperclassmen, as my practice tends to focus on building academic literacy and skills in freshmen so that they may make it to the senior class.

At my school, the school I am incidentally four working days from departing, the Class of 2019 shows great promise. Three years ago these children arrived, and now have become extraordinary young adults, ready to go forth and contribute to the dignity and freedom of humanity.

The two classes I teach have assented to word root worksheets on Friday, which has been a routine of my classroom practice for several years. This morning I post this master list of Greek and Latin Word roots so that it is easily searchable for this group of kids–or anyone else that wants or needs it.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Terms of Art: Readiness

“The degree to which an individual is prepared developmentally to learn a new skill. Readiness is a term often used in early education to describe a child’s acquisition of prerequisite emotional, social and cognitive skills for academic learning.

For example, reading readiness would include pre-reading skills such as letter identification, print awareness, and rhyming. When a child has demonstrated mastery of such skills, that child would be ready to learn to read.

However, the concept of readiness can be applied to any stage of learning. For example, readiness for algebra must mean an individual has mastered certain mathematical calculations.

Normal three- to six-year-olds acquire academic and social readiness naturally when brought up in a literate environment, but developmentally delayed, learning disabled, or environmentally deprived children may need extra training or early intervention to prepare them for learning. Early school failure or unnecessary referrals can be prevented with some extra attention in early education to bolster children’s readiness for school.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

The Weekly Text, August 31, 2018

Sigh. Today is August 31st, and the summer is effectively over for this teacher. For the first time since I started working at my current posting in Lower Manhattan, I am dreading returning to work.

This week’s Text is five worksheets on the homophones plain and plane, both nouns.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Scaffolding (n)

“Coaching or modeling provided by a teacher to increase students’ likelihood of success as they develop new skills or learn new concepts. Scaffolding in education is analogous to scaffolding in construction: just as a building’s scaffolding is a temporary framework that is withdrawn when the structure is is strong enough to stand on its own, so too is scaffolding on the classroom removed when students achieve competence in the targeted area. In any classroom, the teacher’s goal is to enable students to perform tasks on their own, with a minimum of adult aid. Effective scaffolding occurs when the teacher explains an assignment, brings the task to an appropriate level of difficulty, breaks the task into a doable sequence of operations, provides feedback, and helps students gain mastery of new knowledge. Good teachers have always employed scaffolding, even if they never heard of the term.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Lex and Its Others

[Nota bene that the Latin word root lex means “word, law, reading,” in other words, language and its uses.]

“Lexeme: 1. A word considered as a lexical unit, in abstraction from the specific forms it takes in specific constructions, e.g. the verb ‘sing’ or ‘to sing,’ in abstraction from the varying word forms sing, sings, sang, sung, singing. Compare lemma. 2. Any other unit, e.g. a morpheme, seen has having lexical rather than grammatical meaning.

Lexical: 1. Assigned to, or involving units assigned to, a lexicon. Thus a lexical entry is an entry in the lexicon; a lexical item or lexical unit may be any word, etc. which has such an entry; rules are lexically governed if they apply only to structures including certain lexical units. 2. Specifically of words etc. distinguished as having a lexical as opposed to a grammatical meaning, or to members of a lexical as opposed to a functional category.

Lexicon: An aspect of language, or part of a linguist’s account of language, that is centered on units that have individual meanings. Distinguished as such from grammar or syntax as concerned with structures in the abstract. But structures in grammar themselves reflect the properties of the lexical units that enter into them, which may be very general or very specific. Therefore the precise scope of a lexicon, as a description of the properties of or assigned to individual units, will vary from one theory of language to another. In one account, it has been a simple subcomponent of a generative grammar, in others the basis, in itself, for most if not all specific grammatical patterns; in some an unstructured list, in others an elaborate network of entries related by lexical rules, and so on.

Usually distinguished as a theoretical concept, from a dictionary, as part of a practical description: hence e.g. a posited mental lexicon, not ‘mental dictionary.’”

Excerpted from: Matthews, P.H. The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Grapheme (n)

A minimal unit of grammar into which a sentence or a word within a sentence can be divided. E.g. Come inside can be divided into the minimal units come, in, and side; distasteful into dis, taste, and ful.”

Excerpted from: Matthews, P.H. The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Egyptian Revival Style

“In American architecture, this style occurred twice: ca. 1830-1850 and 1920-1930. Used mostly for public monuments and commercial buildings, the forms are heavy, often pylon-like. Reeded columns, palm capitals, and other ornaments are distinctively Egyptian.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Anachronism (n)

“A term used to distinguish anything out of its proper time. Shakespeare’s references to cannons in King John, a play which takes place before cannons came into use, to clocks in Julius Caesar, and to billiards in Antony and Cleopatra, are examples of anachronisms. In literature, anachronisms are sometimes used deliberately as comic devices to emphasized universal timelessness.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Grammar (n)

Any systematic account of the structure of the language; the patterns that it describes; the branch of linguistics concerned with such patterns.

Often restricted to the study of units that can be assigned a meaning. Distinguished in that light from phonology, e.g. singing is a grammatical unit as are sing and –ing, while s or the syllable si are phonological. Also opposed, thought not always, to a dictionary or the lexicon. E.g. the meanings of sing belong to its entry in the lexicon; the functions of -ing to grammar, where they are described for verbs in general. When limited in both of those ways, the study of grammar reduces to that of morphology and syntax.

Chomsky’s term in the 1960s for the knowledge of a language developed by a child who learns to speak it. A grammar in the widest sense was thus at once a set of rules (32) said to be internalized by members of a speech community, and account, by a linguist, of such a grammar. This internalized grammar is effectively what was later called I-language.”

Excerpted from: Matthews, P.H. The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.


Traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the worldview of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon. Myths relate the events, conditions, and deeds of gods or superhuman beings that are outside ordinary human life and yet basic to it. These events are set in a time altogether different from historical time, often at the beginning of creation or at an early stage of prehistory. A people’s myths are usually more closely related to their religious beliefs and rituals. The modern study of myth arose with early-19th-century Romanticism. Wilhelm Mannhardt, J.G. Frazer, and others later employed a more comparative approach. Sigmund Freud viewed myth as an expression of repressed ideas, a view later expanded by Carl Jung in his theory of a “collective unconscious” and mythic archetypes that arise out of it. Bronislaw Malinowski emphasized how myth fulfills common social functions, providing a model or “charter” for human behavior. Claude Levi-Strauss has discerned underlying structures in the formal relations and patterns of myth throughout the world. Mircea Eliade and Rudolf Otto held that myth is to understood solely as religious phenomenon. Features of myth are shared by other kinds of literature. Origin tales explain the source or causes of various aspects of nature or human society and life. Fairy tales  deal with extraordinary things and events but lack the authority of myth. Sagas and epics claim authority but reflect specific historical settings.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.