Sunday, January 26, 2014

English spelling patterns based on Etymology

I am going through some old English grammar and spelling books to brush up my English skills. So here are notes from one of the books I am reading called, "The Spelling Skills Handbook", By John Barwick and Jenny Barwick*.

I find the history of words ("Etymology") most interesting learnings which is useful for helping to spell words. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you, as it is for me. 

Given our greater reliance on spell check these days, the intention of this and some following posts will be to act as a quick reference to help remind myself of some of the spelling patterns in our everyday words. I hope you find them useful as well. 

Common Classical Greek and Latin spelling patterns in modern English
Pattern
Meaning
Examples
ann or enn
year
annual, anniversary, bicentennial, millennium
arch
main, chief, ruling
archbishop, monarch, archetype
bio
life
biology, biography, bio-diversity
chron
time
chronometer, chronicle, synchronise
cycl
round
bicycle, cyclic, cyclone, encyclopedia
duc
lead
introduce, education, produce, conduct
dyna
power
dynamic, dynamo, dynasty
fact
make
factory, satisfaction, artefact
form
shape
formation, uniform, inform, formula
gram
written/ drawn
diagram, grammar, program
hydr
water
hydraulic, dehydrated, hydro-electric
itis
disease
tonsillitis, arthritis
log
study
logic, astrology, technology
log
speak
apologise, dialogue
man
hand
manual, manage, manufacture
onym
name
anonymous, synonym, homonym
phone
sound
telephone, symphony
phys
nature
physical, physiology
poly
many
polyunsaturated, polygon
popul
people
population, popular, populous
psych
mind
psychology, psychic, psychiatrist
rupt
break
disrupt, rupture, interrupt, corrupt
scope
observe
microscope, horoscope, telescope
sign
mark
design, signature, sign, significant
stella
star
constellation, stellar

Knowledge of word history and meaning
Word 
Hint 
centum 
Latin for 'hundred', helps spell cent, century, centenary and percent 
circus 
Latin for 'ring', helps spell circle and circuit 
tele 
Ancient Greek for 'from far away' helps spell telephone (phone = to hear), telegraph, teleport, television
graph 
Ancient Greek for 'draw or write' helps spell photograph, telegraph, calligraphy, graphics
leadership 
means 'the skill of leading', and so beings with lead 
anxiety 
means 'being anxious', and so beings with anxi 
doesn't 
contraction of does not, and so beings with does 
environment 
comes from environ (surrounding) plus ment (hence nm
government 
comes from govern (rule over) plus ment (hence nm
prehistoric 
means 'before recorded history', and so contains hist 
signature 
means 'personal sign or mark', and so begins with sign 


Related links
References:
*Barwick, J (1999). The Spelling Skills Handbook. Sydney: Horwitz Education, p21, p35.