Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Connections Within and Across Words

Cognitively, we process words in morphological families (Baayen, 2007), but learners manifest differences in their awareness of these relationships (Carlisle, 2007). This awareness goes hand in hand with vocabulary development. I am not speaking about memorizing words so much as about finding meaning and logic within words.

For example, the root -ug- (Old Norse) meaning 'dread, fear, horror, loathing' yielded a fair number of words over the centuries--including ugly, ugliness, uggle, ugging, uglification, uglify, etc.  Some of these words are extinct and some are very rare, found only in a good dictionary.  Ugsome and ugsomeness connote ugliness to the point of fear and dread--not just a bad hair day.

Is it difficult to decipher your students' handwriting or spelling? You might enjoy Southey (1804): "I do beseech you mend your uglyography."

Use the links in the sidebar to help diverse learners make connections across related words via brief and cognitively engaging lessons. This type of linguistic insight promotes comprehension (Nagy, 2007) and is often overlooked in curriculum and instruction.

"Morphological knowledge is a wonderful dimension of the child's uncovering of "what's in a word," and one of the least exploited aids to fluent comprehension" (Wolf, 2007, p. 130).


  1. DBS principal10/21/2009

    - As I follow the blog, I am using some of the information to challenge students with questions in our morning meeting. The students love it. This is also a way I can model a quick vocab lesson for my teachers as principal with the entire school. At our next team meetings i will share the specific blog with faculty and let them know that is where I am pulling the information. Might help someone else.

  2. Glad to hear the blog will be put to use. Best of luck! ~Susan

  3. Susan-

    So glad I came upon your blog and hear that you have a Ph.D.!

    I am currently not in education but hoping to land a gig soon.

    I am a masked crimefighter working in the Northwest and get so tired of telling people "Stop!" I had never even though about the origin of the word. Now, thanks to the etymonoline.com, I have a veritable 'buttload' (not sure the origin of that, either) of info.

    I look forward to future entries!

  4. Thanks, plastigrad. Not sure who is behind the mask, but welcome!


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