This year, my extensive unit on the Holocaust/The Diary of Anne Frank/intolerance took a few weeks longer than expected, so now I’m not left with the time it will take to delve into the History of the English Language/Word History/Vocabulary Acquisition unit. Last year’s students whittled this phrasing down to "the Latin unit". In it, they learned how to read etymologies and how to approximate the meanings of larger unfamiliar words by breaking them down into the smaller bases and affixes of which they probably already knew the meanings. Once they got the hang of it, the students enjoyed tracing the histories of words and I could see little light bulbs sparking as they discovered word connections, such as how lunar and lunacy are related.
For the final project, students had to create a portfolio in which they had to complete three mandatory activities and four "choice" activities from a long list of selections that I provided to them. Each of the activities explored word histories and/or the constant evolution of the English language. Students had the options of examining things like binomial nomenclature, Rowling’s use of Latin roots in the Harry Potter series, and words that stemmed from Greek and Roman mythology. One popular choice activity was the Slanguage dictionary, in which the students listed and defined 15 common slang words and phrases. I realized how out of touch I was getting when they introduced me to terms such as on and poppin’, cakin’, and buttahead. Used in context:
I saw that girl from across the way and dang – she looked GOOD! I was doin’ some heavy cakin’, and I could tell that my flirtin’ was makin’ her notice me. So I moved up on her, and was shocked to see that she was a buttahead – everything looked good but her head, and she was ugly from the neck up. Then her boyfriend, who had noticed me cakin’ her, wanted to start a fight so it was on and poppin’.
The mandatory activity that the students enjoyed the most was the Fictionary. Students had to use the lists of Latin and Greek bases and affixes to create new words. For each word, they had to provide the part of speech, create an etymology, give a definition, and use the new word in a sentence using effective context clues. This activity started off to be quite challenging, but once they got the hang of making the pieces fit together and really understood the concept of the meanings of those little pieces creating the larger definition of the whole, they had fun developing new words. Some of my favorite entries:
- adorkable: (adj.) [dork = a silly nerd + able = capable of being] def: dorky but adorable, in a cute way
My brother can be very nerdy, but he is also adorkable.
benbiblio: (noun) [ben = good + biblio = book] def: a fantastic book
It is a benbiblio; I couldn’t stop reading it!
dedullify: (verb) [fr. L de- = against + dull = boring + fy = to do or to make] def: to make not dull; to add excitement
It is almost impossible to dedullify any lecture, educational or otherwise.
defunkify: (verb) [de- = against + funk = foul odor + -fy = to do or to make] def: to remove a fould odor from an object or person
After I got home form basketball practice, my mother told me to go defunkify myself before I ate dinner.
endotechnic: (adj.) [endo = inner + tech = skill + –ic =like] def: having inner skill
"You are like an endotechnic running machine," said the reporter to the new track champion.
kittystrophic: (adj.) [kitty = baby cat + strophic = bad, disastrous] def: a problem that is smaller than catastropic
Your shirt getting a stain is a kittystrophic problem compared to her prom dress getting an ink stain on it.
nutriciolicious: [L fr. nutrire = to nourish + delicious = L fr. delicere = to allure, affording great pleasure] def: something healthy that tastes good
This chocolate chip granola bar is nutriciolicious!
pedidecatoe: (noun) [pedi- = of or pertaining to the foot + deca- = ten + toe = an appendage of the foot] def: one who has ten toes on one foot
It must be impossible for you, as a pedidecatoe, to find a good pair of sandals.
Tysonize: (verb) [Tyson: reference to the boxer Mike Tyson + ize = act of] def: to viciously bite
I’m going to kick the devil out of your dog the next time it tries to Tysonize my foot.
Yesterday’s appointment could have been kittystrophic, especially if Dr. Dead Fish had been there. Surprisingly, his nurse coordinator was there and she was the one who did my ultrasound. She was very kind and I felt more relaxed in the presence of her adorkable bedside manner. Next, we went down to the lab to have my blood drawn. I could have Tysonized the nurse when she painfully punctured my vein, but instead I just glared at her like it was going to be on and poppin’. On the way home from Savannah, Frank and I stopped for a nutriciolicious lunch. While there, a nurse from the clinic called and gave the great news that I could go home and slap on a Vivelle patch and reduce my Lupron to five units per day.
When we got home, I changed clothes and went outside to start undoing winter’s damage to our yard. Neither Frank or I are endotechnic gardeners; the only things we can grow successfully are weeds and mold. But still, every year we make an attempt to dedullify our yard by planting colorful flowers and reapplying mulch. The kids helped, and we were all quite grubby after three hours in the yard. After we defunkified ourselves, we had pizza for dinner, then settled down in the family room with blankets and pillows to watch a movie. That’s my kind of Saturn’s day.