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    <*tion> Is Not an English Suffix

    <*tion> is not an English suffix. I repeat: <*tion> is not an English suffix. I previously wrote a post entitled The -ion Suffix, Connecting Vowel <i>, and Phonological Markers in which I explain the reason that only <ion> is a suffix. To avoid repeating myself again, I suggest reading my original post first before continuing […] More

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    <Urine> and My Phonics Phail

    I grew up in the 1990s. I entered kindergarten in 1990 and began learning to read that year. Phonics and sight words still stick out for me. I remember being handed lists of “sight words” to learn to read and spell. I would ask questions like “why is X spelled ABC?” The only answers I […] More

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    Word Matrix: Anxi

    <Anxi> ‪”uneasy, troubled in mind” from Latin anxius Note: The base is <anxi>. The <i> is part of the base because two connecting vowels cannot occur in a row. Anxi + e + ty -> anxiety Anxi + e + ty + es -> anxieties Anxi + ous -> anxious Anxi + ous + ly […] More

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    Word Matrix: Doodle

    While reading some books about the history of words earlier this year, I came across the word <fopdoodle>, which means “a stupid or insignificant fellow, a fool, a simpleton.” The morpheme <doodle> means “fool, simpleton” and is of unknown origin. The noun meaning “simple fellow” is attested from 1620s. My family has been using the […] More

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    Word Matrix: D (“set, put”)

    Back at the end of July, I investigated the words <add> and <addition>. I undercovered the base <d>, but I misidentified the meaning. As Gina Cooke of Linguistic Educators Exchange pointed out to me on Twitter, at least two distinct <d> base elements exist. The words <add> and <addition> come from the PIE root *do- […] More

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    Word Matrix: Ply (“lay, fold, twist”)

    I recently came across a tweet in a Twitter conversation that argued that studying morphemes is not always helpful. A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in a language. All words consist of at least one morpheme. As a structured word inquirer, I clearly think studying morphemes is helpful, and the example of <reply> […] More

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    Word Matrix: Stude

    <stude> “learn, examine, show zeal for” from Old French estudiier, from Medieval Latin studiare, from Latin studium “study, application,” originally “eagerness,” from studere “to be diligent” Words Sums Stude + y -> study Stude + y + es -> studies Stude + y + ed -> studied Stude + y + ing -> studying Out […] More

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    Word Matrix: D (“give”)

    After returning from a two-week family vacation last weekend, I found my sleep schedule completely messed up. Instead of tossing and turning in bed, I decided to peruse linguistics Twitter. I came upon a tweet from fellow word inquirer Sally Cole asking if <add> and <*addit> are twin bases. I quickly fell down a word […] More

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    Word Matrix: Marsupe

    <marsupe> “purse, pouch” from Modern Latin marsupialis “having a pouch,” coined from Late Latin marsupium “pouch, purse” Word Sums Marsupe + i + um -> marsupium Marsupe + i + a -> marsupia Marsupe + i + al -> marsupial Marsupe + i + al + s -> marsupials Marsupe + i + al + […] More

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    Word Matrix: Galact

    <galact> “milk, milky” from Greek gala (genitive galaktos, stem galakt-) “milk” Word Sums Galact + ic -> galactic Extra + Galact + ic -> extragalactic inter + Galact + ic -> intergalactic intra + Galact + ic -> intragalactic meta + Galact + ic -> metagalactic pan + Galact + ic -> pangalactic trans + […] More

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    Using Verbs and Verb Phrases as Adjunct Adverbials

    Notional grammars traditionally verbs as “words that denote actions and states of being.” A verb phrase consists of a verb plus any auxiliary verbs, particles, modifiers, complements, and objects. In grammar, an adjunct adverbial is a word, phrase, or clause that modifies or describes an entire clause by providing additional information about time, place, manner, […] More

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    Word Matrix: Cat

    <cat> “feline” from Old English catt Words Sums Cat Cat + s -> cats Cat + ed -> catted Cat + ing -> catting Cat + y -> catty Cat + y + er -> cattier Cat + y + est -> cattiest Cat + Bird -> catbird Cat + Bird + s -> catbirds […] More

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    Adjectives Versus Verbs: Participial Adjectives

    As I have written many times before, the line between grammatical forms is blurry at best, especially among lexical categories like adjectives and verbs. Adjectives are “words that describe nouns.” Verbs are “words that denote actions, occurrences, and states.” Participles are nonfinite verbs that share characteristics and functions of verbs, adjectives, and nouns. A present […] More

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    Word Matrix: Pter

    <pter> “feather, wing” from Greek pteron Word Sums Pter + ide + ine -> pteridine Pter + ide + ine + s -> pteridines Pter + in -> pterin Pter + ine -> pterine Am + ine + o + Pter + in -> aminopterin Pter + an + Odon -> pteranodon Pter + an […] More

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    How to Diagram a Sentence: Form-Function Diagrams

    What is grammar? The popular notion is actual or presumed prescriptive notions about the correct use of a language. But linguistics define grammar differently. Grammar is the study of the internal structure of words (morphology) and the use of words in the construction of phrases, clauses, and sentences (syntax). The Form-Function Method for teaching grammar […] More

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    Using Verbs and Verb Phrases as Noun Phrase Complements

    Notional grammars define verbs as “words that denote actions and states of being.” A verb phrase consists of a verb plus any auxiliary verbs, particles, modifiers, complements, and objects. In grammar, a noun phrase complement is a words, phrases, and clauses that complete the meaning of a noun or noun phrase. Verb phrases in the […] More

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    Please Don’t Lambast(e) Me

    I love all forms of word play. Before Easter, I heard a local news reporter pronounce the word <lambasted> “to criticize harshly, to assault violently” as /læmbeɪstɪd/, with the second syllable of the word pronounced like <baste> (rhymes with <waste>). I figured that he had had a slip of the tongue, which happens. No big […] More

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