We apologize for the service outage. We are working with our data center to understand the issue.  We were just informed that it will be 10-15 minutes before service resumes as normal.

UPDATE, 12:31 PT: An update from the data center just came through. They are trying to re-route through a known good network channel. We have some ports re-enabled on the servers, but the main http port is still being worked on.

UPDATE, 12:34 PT: Service has been restored to normal. We apologize for the delay. This was out of our hands, and we are exploring alternatives to have a faster turnaround should any future inacessibility present itself.

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When Prefixes Add Emphasis

by Brett on February 1, 2015

Etymology is a huge help when it comes to figuring out the core meaning of a word.  This post will focus on how prefixes work, one of the primary morphemes that build English vocabulary words.  Prefixes are those parts of words that come before the root, altering or emphasizing a particular word’s meaning.  For instance:

venue: simply a place to which people “come” for an event (via the Latin root ven: “come”).

revenue: “revenue,” on the other hand, is the money that “comes back” to a business after selling its products.  This is a much different word than “venue,” being significantly changed in meaning by adding the prefix re-, “back, again,” although it still has something to do with “coming,” its core meaning.

Sometimes, however, prefixes are used to put special emphasis on a root, thereby not significantly changing the meaning of the word itself, but rather intensifying or emphasizing the meaning of the root word, and subsequently the word itself.  When this happens, a prefix is acting as an intensive.  Let’s look at some examples:

pellucid:  whereas the word “lucid” means “clear,” the word “pellucid” means “very clear.”  The prefix “pel-” is a variant of the base prefix “per-“, which can mean “through” (normal meaning) or “thoroughly” (intensive use).

convince: the Latin root “vinc” means to “win,” so when you “convince” someone of something, you “thoroughly win” that person over to your point of view.  Note that the English prefix “con-” means “with” or “together” when not being used as an intensive.

conclude:  when you “conclude” something, you “thoroughly close” it to further discussion or thought so that no doubt remains, hence the prefix “con-” is once again acting as an intensive.  Note that the Latin root word “clud” means “close, shut, block.”

reticent: since the Latin root word “tic” means “be silent,” here the prefix re- acts as an intensive, for when one is being “reticent” one is being “thoroughly silent” (it wouldn’t make much sense to think of this word as meaning “silent back” or “silent again,” the two primary meanings of the prefix re-).

If it doesn’t make sense for a prefix to change the meaning of a word, it is probably being used as an intensive.  Let’s take a look at a couple more examples of this:

desiccate: this word’s definition means “to dry out.”  The Latin root “sicc” means “dry,” and the prefix “de-” can mean “off, from, or thoroughly.”  It wouldn’t really make sense for the prefix “de-” in this case to change the core meaning of “desiccate” to being “off of or from dryness,” so the de-” here means “thoroughly.”  Hence, when land is “desiccated,” it is “thoroughly dry” or “very dry.”

persuade: The Latin root word “suad” means “to make sweet.”  The prefix “per-” can mean “through,” or it can act as an intensive and mean “thoroughly.”  Would it make more sense for the word “persuade” to somehow be going “through sweetness,” or would it make more sense for it to mean to “make thoroughly sweet” to someone?  Yes, when you are attempting to “persuade” someone to do something, you are making it “thoroughly sweet” for that person so she or he will want to do it.

Here are a couple of podcasts that discuss prefixes that can have intensive force:

The intensive prefixes re- and de-

The intensive prefixes e- and ex-

The key lesson to take away from this is that if the primary meaning of a prefix is not helpful in figuring out the meaning of a word, the prefix may very well be acting as an intensive.

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Membean Now Schedules Your Assessments

by Micah on January 10, 2015

Scheduling assessments to recur on a regular basis is now a breeze to set up. You can choose a recurrence period that fits right in with your schedule, and we’ll autogenerate assessments for you throughout the year, or however long you want. It even has some smarts for common holidays, but be sure to delete those dates you don’t want.  Check out the short bonus video (below) which describes all the new features.

If you’re a teacher, the scheduler is available now on your class dashboards. You’ll receive a reminder e-mail the day before each assessment is generated. There are a few options you can play with, but the defaults may be all you need.

Please give it a try; as always, we really appreciate your feedback.

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Level 6 Has Arrived

January 10, 2015 Annoucements

If you have students who have already seen the upper echelons of our words (all words in Level 5), they can now encounter new words again with our just released Level 6.  It’s like cranking the volume to 11!  Maybe we should have called it L11, because some of the words are that challenging.  Nevertheless, they are still […]

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Grammar Made Easy: Word Origin of the Direct Object

January 2, 2015 Roots

English grammar is filled with confusing terms.  None are probably as misunderstood or hard to grasp as functions of nouns, which tend to be abstract.  It is enlightening to learn the etymology behind grammatical terms, the ideas of which are very simple.  Learning why a word was made in the first place can often demystify that […]

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Grammar Made Easy: Word Origin of the Grammatical Subject

November 26, 2014 Roots

English grammar is filled with confusing terms.  None are probably as misunderstood or hard to grasp as functions of nouns, which tend to be abstract.  Often it is enlightening to learn the etymology behind grammatical terms, however, the concepts of which are very simple.  Learning why a word was made in the first place demystifies the […]

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Enhancing “Story as the Landscape of Knowing” with Membean

November 19, 2014 Roots

Teachers attending NCTE 2014 in Washington DC will be exploring the theme Story as the Landscape of Knowing via the many different programs and sessions offered there. A few of the sessions that pique our interest, which we hope to learn about from visitors to our booth (#447) in the expo hall (where we’ll be busy […]

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Introducing the Activity Log!

November 5, 2014 Annoucements

What’s the Activity Log? The Activity Log allows you to see significant student interactions with Membean. It gives you a way to answer claims such as the following: “I trained, but Membean didn’t record it!” Instructions for accessing a given student’s Activity Log can be found here: How can I see logs of my students’ […]

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Membean was temporarily unavailable

November 4, 2014 Roots

Nov 4, 2014 19:09 PM PT: Our apologies. We detected some malicious behavior toward our servers in an attempt to overwhelm them, and they have been temporarily brought down by us for investigation. We are in communication with our data center to bring the machines back online. UPDATE Nov 4, 2014 20:05 PM PT: We’ve […]

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The High Points of “Summit,” “Apogee,” “Pinnacle,” “Zenith,” “Apex,” and “Acme”

October 3, 2014 Roots

     Of all languages, English has the largest lexicon by far, estimated at well over one-million words; the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary  has over 600,000 entries, and the third edition will more than likely have close to seven figures.  German is a distant second with a still robust 200,000 words in its lexicon. […]

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