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Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin
Discovering Ancient Greek and Latin

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6.1 Words

The following activity will enable to you explore the links between some Latin and English words.

Activity 29

Try to find at least one English word derived from the vocabulary used in the passages of Pliny and Catullus (listed in tables 13 and 14 below). Write down your answers in the box provided.

Table 13 Vocabulary used in passage from Pliny
Latin words
petō – ‘I seek, ask’
auunculus – ‘uncle’
exitus – ‘departure’, ‘death’
scrībō – ‘I write’
uērus – ‘true’
trādō – ‘hand over’, ‘transmit’
posterī – literally ‘those who come later’, i.e. ‘future generations’
possum – ‘I can’
Table 14 Vocabulary used in passage from Catullus
Latin words
dōnō – ‘I give’, ‘I present’
nouus – ‘new’, ‘novel’
āridus – ‘dry’
modo – ‘recently’
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The list below is not complete, but covers some of the most obvious derivations.

PlinyEnglish derivations
petō – ‘I seek, ask’petition
auunculus – ‘uncle’avuncular
exitus – ‘departure’, ‘death’exit
scrībō – ‘I write’scribe, script
uērus – ‘true’veracity, verify, veritable
trādō, ‘hand over’, ‘transmit’tradition
posterī, literally ‘those who come later’, i.e. future generationsposterity
possum, ‘I can’possible
dōnō, ‘I give’, ‘I present’donate
nouus, ‘new’, ‘novel’novel
āridus, ‘dry’arid
modo, ‘recently’modern

The study of Latin vocabulary can also help your understanding of English words. Look, for example, at the abstract English nouns in Table 15 below, which each derive from a Latin word whose meaning is quite specific.

Table 15 English nouns deriving from Latin words
equalityaequus – ‘flat’, ‘level’
essenceesse – the Latin verb ‘be / is’, i.e. the ‘is-ness’ of a thing
humilityhumilis – ‘low’ (also ‘humus’, ‘ground’)
quantityquantus – ‘how much?’
qualityquālis – ‘of what kind?’
ubiquitousubīque – ‘everywhere’