Etymology is the study of the origins of a particular word, it comes from Etymos (Greek) for true.
It might be found in the booklets of Nomenclature cards, dictionaries and Etymological dictionaries.
We give it when it is helpful to the understanding, it is an integral part of the presentation, to be given naturally. Obscure or irrelevant etymology should not be given.
The use of dictionaries should not be isolated, but part of a lesson with natural meaning.
In giving Etymology we hope to engage the Elementary child’s rational, reasoning mind, which asks ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’ in response to discovering new concepts and vocabulary. Older children enjoy knowing that some words are from different countries and cultures, it helps them to realise the contributions people have made in different times and places and see how the language has developed through time.
It helps to develop the child’s vocabulary and to help them with their understanding of it’s meaning and in their ability to memorise and recall new words by forming imaginative associations in the mind, (e.g. barysphere, which means bary – heavy and sphere – ball from the Greek).
Conclusion – theories of spoken language
At the beginning of the twentieth century people because curious about the History of Language and they came up with various theories, these were early explorations into the origins of language. Children may find it fascinating to learn that, like them, adults have struggled for a long time deciding where language came from.
- Bow-wow theory – that humans invented language by imitating sounds they heard in nature and eventually that sound became the word, onomatopoeia.
- The Poo-Poo theory – that language grew from spontaneous interjections, emotions causing expressive cries, Charles Darwin supported this theory
- Ding-Dong theory – that there was a natural correspondence between sense and sound
- Yo-heave-ho theory – humans used chants to co-operate with heavy work and made natural sounds to co-ordinate there efforts, words like heave, haul, push, pull are connected to the actions which they refer to, language is for human harmony in group tasks
- Gesture theory – people spoke with the hands and the voice, each communal gesture was accompanied by a specific sound, over time they stopped using the gesture
- Language comes from music
- The contact theory, human beings are naturally gregarious, they enjoyed language to make contact, a cry aimed at the environment, later a call was made to a specific individual and from this call the word derives meaning.
These are further described at
Our modern understanding is based on histories of the earliest languages and the study of language development in children.