apodiformes (əˌpädəˈfȯrˌmēz)

Hi friends! I recently returned from a spring break trip to Costa Rica, a beautiful country in Central America. Costa Rica is an extremely biodiverse country – while I was there, I saw two-toed sloths, capuchin monkeys, keel-billed toucans, coatis, agoutis and much more. One of the best places to view wildlife in Costa Rica is at the famed Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. The Hummingbird Garden at the Reserve is an amazing place to spot different types of hummingbirds – my favorite birds to photograph.

There are 54 types of hummingbirds in Costa Rica. Hummingbirds belong to an order of birds called apodiformes. “Apodiformes” contains the Greek prefix a-, meaning not and the Greek root pod- meaning foot. It also includes the Latin ending -iform meaning in the shape of. Based on these roots, we can infer that hummingbirds have small (almost nonexistent) feet. And indeed, they have incredibly tiny feet and legs, and as a result, they cannot walk.

During the past year, I’ve discovered a new interest in wildlife photography. Hummingbirds are particularly challenging to photograph because they are so frenetic and elusive. That being said, I hope you enjoy my hummingbird pictures!

eruditio et religio

Hello everyone!

I just got back from my first official college visit to Duke University in North Carolina.

My dad graduated from Duke so the visit was especially meaningful. I understand why this place holds such a special place in his heart because I LOVED it there. The campus is beautiful and buzzing with life.

Duke’s motto is “eruditio et religio” which means “erudition and religion.” An erudite person shows knowledge that is gained through meticulous studying. The Latin prefix e- means out, and rudis- means rough. This could mean that the university will literally transform students from rough or undeveloped into wise and knowledgeable people. Religio- (religion or faith) is possibly referring to Duke’s Methodist background.

Many colleges and universities have mottos that are written in Latin. After a quick search, I discovered that universities all over the world have Latin mottos showing that the language is indeed alive and well.

What is the motto of the college/university you attended? If you’re not in college yet, what is the motto of the college you would like to attend? 🙂

Looking forward to hearing your mottos; please be sure to comment!

Name That Animal: Challenge #8

What would you name this magnificent creature? Photo via galleryhip.com

It’s about time for a Name That Animal Challenge!

Pretend that you are a scientist and you have just discovered this new species and you have the privilege of naming it. Scientists usually name new species by using Greek or/and Latin roots because the prefixes, stems, and suffixes are just like building blocks that you can utilize in countless ways.

Your challenge is to name the strange animal in the picture above using your knowledge of Greek and Latin roots. Keep in mind that you can use characteristics like size, color, or shape to name this animal. Feel free to search my blog to find root words to help you or use the list below!

Greek:

cyno-                                                dog

hydro-                                              water

cephal-                                             head

enalio-                                              sea

-cephaly                                           head

-soma-                                              body

somato-                                            body

oceano-                                            sea

-delphus                                          dolphin, womb

 

Latin:

cani-                                                  dog

-corp-                                                body

mari-, mar-                                     sea/ocean

-capit-                                               head

aqua-, aquato-                              water

-delphin-                                         dolphin

The letter “o” is the most common way to link Greek roots, and the letter “i” is used to link Latin roots. However, you can do whatever you like and enjoy!

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out Name That Animal Challenge #1, Name That Animal Challenge #2, Name That Animal Challenge #3, Name That Animal Challenge #4Name That Animal Challenge #5, and Name That Animal Challenge #6.

eradicate (ə̇ˈradəˌkāt) vs. irradicate (ə̇ˈradə̇ˌkāt)

Hello everyone! To continue our homonym theme, let’s take a look at this confusing pair of homophones – eradicate and irradicate. You may remember from an earlier post that homophones are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently.

Both eradicate and irradicate come from the Latin word radix, which means root. However, these words have opposite meanings due to their prefixes. Eradicate contains the Latin prefix e- which means out of, giving rise to its meaning “to uproot” or “root out”. One could use the word “eradicate” in terms of a cure for a disease (the disease was completely eradicated).

Irradicate on the other hand means to root deeply within. It refers to something that cannot be “rooted out” or “destroyed.” This word has gone through assimilation, the process by which the final letter of the prefix is dropped, and the first letter of the root is doubled. In this case, the prefix “in” (meaning in or within), has changed to ir-radicate. Even though assimilation has occurred, the meaning of the original prefix remains. Assimilation often occurs with words derived from Latin in which a prefix is linked to a root. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about this interesting pair of words!

 

 

 

 

discreet (də̇ˈskrēt) vs. discrete (dəˈskrēt)

 

This is a guest post by Aisha R. from California who participated in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2016 and 2017.

Hi everyone! My name is Aisha and I am a 12 year old 7th grader. When Tara announced that she was doing a homonym theme on her blog, I was quick to volunteer to write a guest post.

An interesting pair of homonyms that I found are discrete (detached or separate) and discreet (prudent, modest, or unobtrusive). Both words come from the Latin verb discernere which means to separate or to distinguish. Unfortunately, the shared etymology makes these words difficult to differentiate.

A good way to remember the definition for the word discrete is that the two e’s in the word are separated by the t. Here is a picture to help you remember this trick.

discrete memory trick

Thank you Aisha, for taking the time to share this pair of homophones with us and your trick to remembering how to spell discrete. It is  interesting to note that the word “discern” (to recognize or identify as separate or distinct) also comes from the Latin verb discernere.

 

 

complacent (kəm-plā-sənt) vs. complaisant (kəm-plā-sənt)

 

Let’s kick off our homonym theme with a pare pair of adjectives that I find to be particularly tricky. The words complacent and complaisant are homophones as well as heterographs. As you may recall, homophones are words that sound the same, but are defined differently, while heterographs have the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings.

Both words are derived from the Latin infinitive complacere meaning to please. Complaisant means “a desire to please,” whereas complacent means “pleased with one’s self” or “self-satisfied,” and usually has a negative connotation. To make it more confusing, one of the definitions of complacent IS complaisant! However, if you use the word complacent to mean “willingness to please or oblige others”, linguists will probably label it incorrect.

Stay tuned for another tricky homonym pear pair soon!