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English Detective #5, English Roots: Classical Greece and Rome, Jan. 28, 2013.
January 27, 2013

English Roots: Classical Greece and Rome, Jan. 28 2013


Readings and Practice Activities: (I’ve suggested days for each activity, so you can do a little each day. Feel free to do each activity when it’s best for you.)

(1st Monday): Introducing this issue

(Tuesday): Read the first half of an article about Ancient Greece.

(Wednesday): 2nd half of that reading on Greece.

(Thursday): Learn and Practice Greek Roots.

(Friday): Classical Roots Crossword (OR do this next Tuesday and do Vocabulary from Classical Roots today if you like to read about all the vocabulary BEFORE you do a crossword. Do whichever works best for you.)

2nd week (Monday): A Summary of Greek-Roman Connections and Thinking

(Tuesday): Review Vocabulary from Classical Roots

(Wednesday): Roman Science

(Thursday): Practice more Words from Latin Roots.

(Friday) Test your Deductions: Quiz on Words from Greek and Latin Roots

Monday-- Introducing this issue:

Although almost all the most common words in English came from Anglo-Saxon (a language related to German and Dutch), much of its academic, scientific, and technical vocabulary (over 3/4 of the words on the Academic Word List), is from Greek and Latin (the language of ancient Rome.) Many common idioms in English also originated with them.

Western civilization also owes a lot to the efforts of the ancient Greeks and Romans. This issue has several readings-- a long article and two quite short ones for balance-- that give a little sense of ancient and classical Greek and Roman culture. They mention some of the words, skills, and concepts that the world has inherited from them: the idea & ideals of civic duty, citizenship, participatory democracy and a republic. Classical Greece and Rome also laid the foundations for western science, medicine, education, and the competitive sports of the Olympic Games.

In California, and I suspect in most states and most of the English-speaking world, our children study Greek and Roman mythology in their English classes for much of a year because of all the cultural references. English literature-- poetry, drama, fiction, and essays-- from Shakespeare to the Enlightenment and even to the present -- is full of such references.

For the first Tuesday and Wednesday I suggest a long but very helpful reading on ancient Greek history and culture. Thursday there is some background on common Greek roots of English words. Friday there is a crossword puzzle to practice all this issue’s vocabulary. (If you prefer, study the words on the Classical Roots page first and do the crossword next Tuesday.)

The second week starts with a short reading that summarizes and compares some of the contributions of ancient Greece and Rome. Tuesday there is more about this issue’s vocabulary as well as background on vocabulary from classical roots in general. After a short reading about Roman science Wednesday, there is more practice with words from some Latin roots Thursday. These are words from the AWL, so a few are review, and others are preview of words we will be studying in later newsletters. Friday there’s a quiz on both weeks’ vocabulary.

Your First Clue: Vocabulary we’ll Emphasize in this Issue

ambiguous, analogous, assume, classical, concentration, consistent, consumer, dominate, emerge, enormous, ideology, logic, military, normal, norms, persistent, philosophers, physical, precise, rational, scope, successor, theory, thesis, whereas

If you already know most of the words, work on the ones you aren’t so sure of, or enjoy the readings and take a break from intensive study this week. There will be a whole different group in the new newsletter.

One extra explanation for this issue: All the words above, except one, have Greek or Latin roots and are explained in the lessons below. This seems to be the best place to explain how to use ‘whereas,’ which comes from old English. ‘Whereas’ is a (less common, rather formal) conjunction showing contrast or difference. It’s used like ‘but,’ ’however,’ or ‘while.’ (Sometimes in legal documents it introduces each section and means ‘since.’)

Here’s an example using it the ‘normal’ way: “Southern California is often sunny even in winter, whereas Oregon and Washington are often dark and rainy then.”

Tuesday: Read about Ancient Greece

This is quite a long, informative article, though not hard to read. I recommend you read the first half (on the historical development of Greek civilization) today, and the section beginning with “Daily Life” tomorrow. I like this article’s maps, illustrations, and the large alphabetical glossary at the bottom of the page. If you find an unfamiliar word in bold text, you can find a simple definition in the glossary. Click here for the article.


Use the link above to read the second half of that article on ancient Greece.

Thursday: Practice with Greek Roots

Click here.

Friday: Classical Roots Crossword

(Right) click here for the crossword

and here for the answers.

2nd Monday: Greek-Roman Connections and Thinking

Click here for the article.

Tuesday: English Vocabulary from Classical Roots

Click here.

Wednesday: Roman Science

Here’s the article.

Thursday: 50 Latin Word Roots Vocabulary Practice

Click here for the practice.

Friday: Test your Deductions

(Right) click here for the Greek and Latin Roots Quiz and answers (a pdf.)

Coming in the next issue: more about the Roman Empire and Roman Britain.

A special note: if you ever want to see what AWL words are in which specific readings, click herefor a listing week by week, with the most recent first. If you want to read one of those words in context, use your browser’s “find.” (Ctrl-F for Internet Explorer and Chrome; “Find” on the dropdown menu in Firefox’s upper left hand corner icon. For more explanation, see the AV Word Lists page above.)

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