Friday, February 24, 2017

While studying sports related words with a client , the word < court > came up. 
I asked myself, " What is that < u > doing?" It does not seem to have a phonological role. 
Upon looking to etymology I found my answer. The word < cortus> moved from Latin and through French. The French added an ou digraph. Although the pronunciation is different from what < ou> represents in other words, it is still a grapheme in the word. The < r > changes the pronunciation. 
Looking at the meaning of court became interesting! It origionally was used to refer to the enclosed gardens people came together in to discuss issues of the day. The people who gathered there were ' cohorts'. The word 'court' was also used to refer to the King's residence. People who came to court wanted to woo the king to do something in their favor. It is the same reason we go to court today, only we want to woo the judge in our favor. 
Today ' court ' is also used to refer to a place where some sports are played. I realized these courts could be inside or outside. They are all enclosed spaces where people come together to play a game. The difference between a court and a field is that a court has a floor or foundation of some type. 
All of this came to light just because I wondered where that < u> came from.

In SWI class for the past two weeks we have been investigating words that we use to praise. Awesome, perfect, nice, super.... and the list goes on. What we found is that over time we have moved away from understanding the denotative meanings and early connotative meanings of many of these words. I think we all agreed that we would never call anyone's work "nice" any longer. 

 The denotative meaning of nice: " foolish, stupid, senseless" also " weak, poor, needy, simple, stupid, silly, foolish" . From Latin 'nescius' " ignorant, unaware, literally, not knowing".

The connotative meanings developed sense the twelfth century. From " timid, fussy, fastidious" and on to " dainty and delicate". Further traveling to " precise, careful, agreeable, delightful"  to it's present day use, " kind, thoughtful ". 

Is it really a complement to say someone or their work is, " nice? " It certainly has not been for most of the work's history. It seems to me that it is a word we use when we want to semi-compliment someone who is agreeable and average. Someone who never, " rocks the boat," or discusses controversial topics. As someone who speaks out about the truth about language, explaining how phonics fails children who do not memorize words easily. I definitely would not fit the adjective, " nice". In fact I cannot imagine living a life spent turning my gaze the other direction when I see lies being told and children being harmed. In the 1800s is was a common occurrence to hear the phrase, " in polite company." This meant your expected cohorts would all be well to do and obey the rules of "polite" conversation. No calling out the elephant in the room at these gatherings unless you wanted to be shunned by the only community that it was "appropriate" to socialize among. The more I think about this word and how it was used, the more I realize it was used as a tool of society to keep women in their place. Thank goodness we have moved on from a time where women " knew their place ". I think we also need to move on to much more complimentary forms of praise that are authentic and genuine. 

The results of our investigations ( denotative meanings indicated): 

 terr + i + fic---->  <terrific>   " causing terror or fear " 

wonder + ful ---> < wonderful > " marvellous thing, miracle, object of astonishment " 

per + fect --> < perfect > " to do completely"  

awe + some --> awesome  " inspiring awe"

< great > " big, tell big, stout, massive" 

fantas + ic --->  < fantastic >   " existing only in imagination "

fab + ule + ous -->   < fabulous >   " mythical, legendary " ( fable ) 

< super > ---> " first rate, excellent " 

 < spectacular > This word is analyzable but cannot be put into a word sum. ( at least not by me at this point)   " a sight, show that is amazing to see"

magn + i + fic + ant --> < magnificant > " great, elevated, noble, distinguished "

There are more! I hope you readers are inspired to continue this investigation. We certainly had a great time investigating these words. We plan to start using them when they actually apply! 

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