What is the Difference Between a Linguist, Grammarian and Lexicographer?

Some students of language have wondered about the difference in the language professionals, namely a linguistic, grammarian and lexicographer. I would like to take a moment and explain the difference in the video blog below. It is really quite simple, although it must be noted that many language professionals may fall into more than one category.

Video Link

Personally, I am not a grammarian at all. I really hate grammar with all its complicated rules. Like most native speakers, I don’t rely on grammar rules, just experience of what ‘sounds right’. I often have to look up grammar information to answer student questions or provide explanations of why a grammar point is what it is. It’s clear that I’m not a grammarian. While I enjoy dictionaries and English word etymologies, I don’t think of myself as so much of a lexicographer. What I find most interesting is the study of linguistics, not just English but language in general. I love learning about language, how the brain processes it and how people learn and use it. I use this information to help my students learn in a better way. Look for information about all the disciplines of language study on my blog and in my videos.

no-grammar

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Word Roots, Suffixes and Prefixes

How can a better knowledge of word roots, suffixes and prefixes help you make progress in your English? Well, understanding these helps you understand difficult or long words better. A word root is the basic foundation of a word. It may or may not be a word on its own. Prefixes are added to the front of a word, and suffixes are added to the end of a word. Click to watch the YouTube blog video below to learn more!

Word Roots Video

Want to learn more about these building blocks of words? Check out this website link from Learn that Word. (Click here) for word roots and prefixes and this one also from Learn that Word (Click here) of suffixes. This website is a comprehensive dictionary of all these word pieces. By learning what the word roots, prefixes and suffixes mean in a word, you can more easily break down a difficult word and make sense of it.

Try it: Can you identify the word roots, prefixes and/or suffixes in these words:

  1. Interrupt
  2. Brilliant
  3. Countable
  4. Unbelievable
  5. Prepackaged
  6. Musician
  7. Spectator
  8. Zoology
  9. Sectarianism
  10. Digestion

 

 

 

 

How French Influenced English: A Short History

In this video blog post, I explain how and why French influenced the English language. To understand this, we take a trip back in time to the days of the Vikings and William I. Check out my video, click on the image below:

Battle of Hastings Normans

or this link: https://youtu.be/0BWpp0mcSF0

Have you ever noticed that certain words in English, while they may mean the same thing, sound fancier or more formal? Why is an animal a “cow” or “bull” in the farmyard, but “beef” cooked and on the table? Think about the following word synonym pairs:

Bring/Carry

Hearty/Cordial

Wonder/Ponder

Weird/Strange

Wild/Savage

Kingship/Monarchy

Can you tell that the first word is Anglo-Saxon (English) based, while the second is French based? Now you know why fancier or more formal sounding words have French roots, and more common, plain or everyday words are Anglo-Saxon based. It’s all about the rich history of the English language. (Note: Rolo should be Rollo. Sorry for the error in editing!)

 

Aaron’s Three Interesting Facts about English

Editors Note: Sorry for the delay in publishing new information. Here at Aaron’s English we’ve been working on updating our video format to make it more fun and interesting. After all, that’s what we are all about, real-world fun and interesting English learning. In addition, Aaron is expanding his own skills with college courses on the subject of linguistics . 

I thought I would share with you my favorite three things about the English language. While it may be easy to guess that I love talking about English, I really do believe there is so much value in learning English and expanding your fluency in it. So here are my favorite fun facts about English (Don’t forget to watch the YouTube video link too):

1. Although English is categorized as a Germanic language, the language that we tend to borrow the least from is German. We borrow much more from other languages. Some have the mistaken idea that German is somehow the parent language or root of English. However, English and German both developed and evolved independently from one another from one common language.

2. English is probably the most important language of practical use to learn. I know many people will be quick to point out that Chinese is spoken by more people than any other language. They’d be correct in saying that but that doesn’t mean that everyone needs to go out and start learning Chinese (unless you’re planning on moving to a Chinese speaking country). The simple fact of the matter is that English is a global language. Most scientific papers are published in English, almost half of the business deals done in Europe are done in English, it’s the official language of air traffic controllers, and there are currently over a billion people currently learning English. It’s the official language of 4 countries, 64 sovereign states, and 27 non-sovereign entities. (See the illustration below) That’s certainly some incentive to learn English! Which by the way, there are more English-language-learners than there are actual native English speakers.

Countries in which English is the first language of the majority of the population. (shown in dark blue); other countries present possess substantial English knowledge dating back to the British Empire (shown in light blue) Source: Wikipedia “English Speaking World”

3.  English is one of the only languages that has a thesaurus. Japanese makes use of one as well, but this is a rare exception. The reason English needs a thesaurus is that English borrows so much from other languages that it necessitates a thesaurus. English borrows from Anglo-Saxon, Norse, Latin, French, Greek, etc. so we’ve adopted and adapted these to English. Interestingly, when using a thesaurus you’ll, more often than not, find words with different shades of meaning. Some are more technical, archaic, slangy, scholarly, or literary. It’s important that you use the word most commonly used to the audience you’re writing for or talking to.

Video link:   YouTube Aaron’s English Page

Portmanteau Words

What are portmanteau words? A portmanteau is a word from French that means a large leather suitcase with two large compartments. But how can a suitcase relate to words? Why don’t you find out! (Click on the link below to watch the video)

Portmanteau Video on YouTube

Some examples (including the ones from the video and some additional ones too) of portmanteau words and definitions:

biopic- a biographic movie (biography/picture)
dramedy- a movie that is both comedic and dramatic (drama/comedy)
mockumentary- a satirical movie that is filmed in the way a documentary film would be made (mock/documentary)
newscast- a radio or television program that reports the news (news/broadcast)
soundscape- a melange of musical and sometimes non-musical sounds (sound/landscape)
brunch- a meal that combines breakfast and lunch and that is usually eaten in late morning (breakfast/lunch)
brainiac- a very intelligent person (brain/maniac)
blog- a website on which someone writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences (web/log)
bodacious- very good or impressive (bold/audacious)
meld- blend or mix (melt/weld)
bit- a unit of computer information equivalent to the result of a choice between two alternatives(binary/digit)

Can you think of any others? (Look at the picture for a hint)

spork

Each word makes up half of the whole new word, just like the two compartments of a portmanteau fold up to make one suitcase.

portmanteau

Interjections and Bears in Yosemite National Park!

Recently, I have been on vacation to see some of the popular places in California. My wife and I went on a two week long road trip to see the Eastern Sierras, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, Napa Valley and the Pacific Coast Highway. We kept a blog about our adventures at www.aaronandjocelyn.wordpress.com.

While on my trip, I decided to take the opportunity to film a blog video. I had a last minute change of topic, when we encountered a bear family on our hike. I decided that talking about the use of interjections, or exclamatory remarks, would be appropriate. My fellow hikers and I all used various interjections to express our surprise and even fear at seeing the bears. Bears can be dangerous to hikers, especially if a mother bear has cubs. Fortunately we were able to give the bears enough space, and they didn’t mind us sharing the trail with them. Check out my blog video to find out more about using interjections in everyday speech and writing.