In our ongoing educational etymology work on English word origins, this past week we reviewed that the prefix con- can mean “with” or act as the intensive “thoroughly,” as well as discussing its spelling variants: co-, col-, com-, and cor-. We also learned that the English root word ten means “hold.” A completely correct and tenable way to remember and tenaciously learn English roots is to provide maintenance for them by concise review, thereby making their meaning hold permanent tenure in your brain. Some of the words I’ll reinforce in this English vocabulary root words blog are cooperate, collaborate, complete, correct, tenet, tenacious, tenure, and tenant.
Con- Variants → co-, col-, com-, and cor-
sample words: cooperate, collaborate, complete, correct
Most English prefixes not only have multiple meanings, but also change spelling depending upon the roots or stems to which they are attached. For instance, we reviewed last week that the English prefix con- can not only mean “with” or “thoroughly,” but that the spelling variants of the prefix con- are: co-, col-, com-, and cor-. The prefix con-, for instance, can mean “with” in the English word “connect,” which means to “link with;” it can also act as an intensive in the English word “conclude,” or to “thoroughly” close. Here are some examples of words in which the prefix con- has altered its spelling to accommodate the root or stem to which it is attached: cooperate: to work “with;” collaborate: to work “with;” complete: to “thoroughly” fill; and correct: to make “thoroughly” right. Imagine if prefixes did not change their meaning, or did not undergo prefix assimilation, but rather kept the con- spelling! Tongues would be twisted and ears would be hurt every time such words as “conoperate,” “conlaborate,” “conplete,” and “conrect” were uttered.
Ten → ‘Hold’
sample words: tenet, tenacious, tenure, tenant
Last week we also learned about the English root word ten: ‘hold.’ A tenet is a belief or opinion, “held” by a group of people, that is “held” to be a truth sacred to that group. One tenet of the human race as a whole is that people should respect human life. This tenet has been tenaciously followed, or firmly “held” onto, for millennia, at least in word, if not in deed. One tenet or belief that universities “hold” is that professors, once showing their competency and value to the world of academia, should be offered tenure, or the status one has earned to “hold” onto that professorship on a permanent basis. Just as a professor can “hold” onto her job for good once having received tenure, so too can a tenant hold onto his apartment, at least as long as the lease lasts and payments are promptly made.
Questions of the week (to be answered next week):
- Indicate the ff. words so that the prefix is correctly spelled: con- + agulate; con- + rupt; con- + dominium; con- + bative; and con- + lection.
- What is the musical notation that contains the root word ten which indicates that a note should be played beyond its normal duration?
Questions from last week:
- Q: What does a convention have to do with the meaning of the prefix con-?
A: Since con- means “with” or “together,” a “convention” is a gathering of people “with” whom one has similar interests; a convention can also be thought of as an event where people gather “together.”
- Q: What does the mathematical operation of subtraction have to do with the English root tract?
A: Since the English root tract means “drag” or “pull,” subtraction is etymologically the “pulling” away of a certain quantity from another quantity. When you “pull” 3 away from 5, you are left with 2. Note that the English prefix sub- usually means “under” or “below;” this is an isolated case of the prefix sub- meaning “away.”