Friday, September 30, 2016

The Key To 100,000 Words (Part 2)

For days the teacher trembled lest some parent come storming into the school asking what in the devil was being taught teenagers nowadays. It never happened. The teacher herself is now persuaded that there was probably no more powerful way to teach these prefixes than to combine them with the sanguinary root “-cide.” Months later, she reports, most of the students in the class had a pretty good idea of the meanings of such words as "‘matriarchy,” “patrimony,” “fraternal,” and “uxorial”-not easy words, you will admit, for eighth graders who have not yet studied Latin. Fortunately, the students had been given the keys to unlock their meanings. 

Prefixes, roots, and suffixes are truly the keys to a staggering number of English words. Leonard A. Stevens, a writer on this subject, claims that 14 words with their prefixes and roots provide the necessary tools for figuring out the meanings of no fewer than 100,000 words, four times the average man’s vocabulary. Although this claim should be taken with a grain of salt-for prefixes and roots will not give you exact definitions and can sometimes lead you astray-the fact remains that knowing prefixes, roots, and suffixes is almost as valuable to the vocabulary builder as the lever to Archimedes. “Give me a large enough lever,” said the brilliant Greek, “and I can move the earth.” Prefixes, roots, and suffixes are a gigantic lever to the vocabulary builder These are worth studying closely. 

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