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#175315 - 03/29/08 06:31 PM Literal Meaning Vs. Dictionary Definition
Bigwig Rabbit Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/22/07
Posts: 33
Loc: California, USA
Alright then. You all have been really helpful to me thus far in creating a curriculum for teaching fourth graders morphology. So, I'm hoping for some expert input as to how I can get the students (these students are second language English, first language Spanish, so we have an advantage there as far as Latin roots go) to connect the literal meaning of the word to the dictionary definition. An example is thus: concoction Con = with, coquer = to cook (Fr.), -tion= a state of being.

Now you and I can couple that literal meaning with the dictionary definition, which is: to make a combination with crude materials.

My goal is to teach my fourth graders to do what I do when meeting a word I don't quite know: pick it apart, and using morphology, and, while employing context clues gather the meaning, or approximate meaning of the word, and then go on reading. I am seeking to bolster comprehension here.

I'd like any and all ideas about how I can get my students to see the relationship between the literal meaning of a word and it's dictionary definition, especially when the two are quite dissimilar on the surface.


Edited by Bigwig Rabbit (03/29/08 06:32 PM)
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#175318 - 03/29/08 09:18 PM Re: Literal Meaning Vs. Dictionary Definition [Re: Bigwig Rabbit]
twosleepy Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 876
Loc: western NY
Disclaimer: I am no expert! You will probably get much better answers than mine, but I'll give it a go...

1. Make sure they are strong in the basic parts of speech. You will beat your head bloody trying to teach them things in English if they have no knowledge base in their own language. If you don't teach the basics in Spanish, it doesn't really matter, so long as they understand what the words mean (noun, verb, etc.)

2. Teach affixes. I would start with prefixes. Make sure to let them know some simply have to be memorized because there exists no "logical" or intuitive connections; for example, the suffix "-ly" in English, generally creating an adverb, corresponds to the suffix "-mente" in Spanish, also creating an adverb. They just have to remember it!

3. Help them with visual cues for things which may look similar but sound different: "-cion" in Spanish corresponds to "-tion" in English.

4. Dig, dig, dig yourself! Depending on their ethnic background (guessing Mexican, as you hail from CA), familiarize yourself with their colloquial expressions and words and find a way to draw out word origins and meanings. Here's an example from my side of the cow patty: We have a good sized Puerto Rican population. The colloquial word for an orange is "china" (pronounced "cheena"). Standard Spanish for orange is "naranja". Where did this "china" word come from? Logically, the country. Southeast Asia is the origin of oranges, hence the moniker. The more you learn about their colloquialisms, the more dots you'll be able to do number 5:

5. Connect the dots. Throw in as many different languages and connections as you can. Encourage questions and mistakes, and use them to make more connections.

That's all I've got off the top of my head. I'm sure others will have some much better ideas! Buena suerte! :0)

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#175319 - 03/29/08 10:22 PM Re: Literal Meaning Vs. Dictionary Definition [Re: twosleepy]
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
Start with astrology.. (ask every body their sign)
then ask them what a disaster is (dis/not aster/star(not (in the) stars.. the astrologers excuse for not forseeing some major event!

you can look for other examples..

there are lots of science words that are made up from roots.
(television
microscope
phonograph(ok that's history)
telescope..
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#175327 - 03/30/08 09:03 AM Re: Literal Meaning Vs. Dictionary Definition [Re: of troy]
Bigwig Rabbit Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/22/07
Posts: 33
Loc: California, USA
You see, that's exactly what I'm talking about: the connection between the literal meaning of "disaster" and its modern usage. I think that to connect "disaster" to astrology in order to clarify meaning is a good idea. In the great likelihood that many students are not familiar with astrology, that would be another great word to morphologicalize in tandem with "disaster".

Twosleepy: Thanks for the tips. I have definitely hammered away at parts of speech and have found them to be essential to both the students' learning a new word through morphology as well as to my assessment of the level at which they have grasped the meaning of the new word.

Why did I not think of addressing cognate suffixes (-ly and -mente) before? Good idea. I've utilized cognates when explaining some roots and a few prefixes like con- but for some reason neglected the suffixes. Isopaleocopria, I guess.
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#175330 - 03/30/08 11:21 AM Re: Literal Meaning Vs. Dictionary Definition [Re: Bigwig Rabbit]
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3286
Loc: R'lyeh
Why did I not think of addressing cognate suffixes (-ly and -mente) before?

Technically, the two suffixes, -ly and -ment(e), are not cognates. To be a cognate, two forms must be derived from the same common ancestor. If you like, Gothic leiks, Old English līk 'body, corpse' (which survives in some placenames, e.g., Litchfield, VA, in the USA), and German Leiche 'corpse' are cognates. English sing and Latin canere are not, they they have the same meaning. The suffix -ly in English has two related uses: (1) to derive adjectives from nouns, e.g., fatherly, and (2) to derive adverbs from adjectives, e.g., perfectly. The suffix is inherited from the substantive līk in Old English and is cognate with German -lich. The Romance suffix -ment(e) is usual thought to be inherited from the Latin noun mens, mentis, 'mind'. They are a similar kind of historical development, but not cognates. Some actual affixes that are cognates would be Latin in-, Greek ou- (as in Utopia 'no-place'), Sanskrit a- (as in ahimsa 'non-violence'), and English un- as negative prefixes.

Likewise, I would use the term etymological meaning, rather than literal meaning. For me, words can have literal meanings and metaphorical ones. That's more about usage. Words may have multiple meanings, e.g., set.
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#175334 - 03/30/08 03:00 PM Re: Literal Meaning Vs. Dictionary Definition [Re: zmjezhd]
twosleepy Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 876
Loc: western NY
 Originally Posted By: twosleepy
They just have to remember it!


I think you might have confused the words, Bigwig, as zmjezhd is entirely correct. Maybe you meant "-cion" and "-tion"? As I quoted myself above, regarding "-ly" and "-mente", these two are most assuredly not cognates, and must be memorized. Having said this, cognates are your friends! Most topics will include 1/3 to 1/2 of the vocabulary words as cognates. Some are more obscure (see, there's one: "oscuro") than others. For example, "edificio", most commonly translated as "building", but has the cognate "edifice", which most English speaking students won't know. Another: "abrazar", to hug, but also to embrace (some might actually get that one, LOL!).

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#175342 - 03/30/08 07:34 PM Re: Literal Meaning Vs. Dictionary Definition [Re: twosleepy]
Bigwig Rabbit Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/22/07
Posts: 33
Loc: California, USA
I was, and still am, in fact, confused. Don't mind me, however. I'll be fine when the anesthesia wears off.
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#175344 - 03/30/08 08:20 PM Re: Literal Meaning Vs. Dictionary Definition [Re: Bigwig Rabbit]
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/24/02
Posts: 7210
Loc: Vermont
 Originally Posted By: Bigwig Rabbit
I was, and still am, in fact, confused. Don't mind me, however. I'll be fine when the anesthesia wears off.


no, that's when it will really start to hurt...

: )
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#175346 - 03/30/08 09:42 PM Re: Literal Meaning Vs. Dictionary Definition [Re: twosleepy]
The Pook Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1067
Loc: Tasmania
They may not be cognates, but they are equivalents in their respective languages, fulfilling the same functions, or at least overlapping functions, so don't get hung up on what you call them, the original point is still valid - you can say, "use '-ly' in English where you would use '-mente' (-amente/-emente) in Spanish." You can also warn them against confusing the English use of '-ment' with the Spanish '-mente.'

Another example of building different parts of speech from component words plus affixes is that comparatives are much more rarely made in English than in Spanish by adding the word 'more' (mas), except as in this sentence where it is modifying an adverb. So where in Spanish you might say 'mas alto' in English you don't say 'more tall' but rather 'taller', adding the comparitive suffix '-er.' And you don't say 'the more tall' or 'most tall,' but 'tall-est' The general rule you could teach there is that most times, 'mas' equates to the suffix "-er" and 'el mas' to the suffix 'est.'

However, this also highlights the whole problem with English in that there are so many exceptions that simply have to be learned by rote or usage and correction. For example, you don't say 'popularer' but 'more popular'! On the other hand, 'less' is pretty much the same as 'menos' and we don't have a suffix meaning less - in fact when we do suffix 'less' to a word it means 'without' (Spanish 'sin'). English is a stupid language. I love it!

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#175347 - 03/30/08 10:01 PM Re: Literal Meaning Vs. Dictionary Definition [Re: The Pook]
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3286
Loc: R'lyeh
so don't get hung up on what you call them

There's no need to tell them something that is incorrect. Instead of calling them cognates you can tell them the origin of both suffixes in their respective languages and say how it's interesting that two languages choose roughly similar ways to express something morphologically. Calling -ly and -mente cognates is doing them a disservice which very well may come back to haunt them later on in life. Like telling them that pi is three exactly, instead of around three,
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