Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Discover the History of Words with Mysteries of Venacular

Expanding your vocabulary is a great goal in itself, but it tends to take up more importance as students prepare to face such tests at End of Grade (EOG) exams and SAT/ACT, etc.  But here is a resource that can make your vocabulary-building more fun.

The website, Mysteries of Venacular, is developing a series of fun videos on the twists and turns that English words have taken from their Greek, Latin, Old English, or other roots to their modern meanings and spellings.  Mysteries of Venacular tend to focus on simple words, like clue or hearse, but which came from unique or memorable origins (Greek mythology for the former and a word for "wolf" for the latter).  Once you've seen one of these videos, you'll never forget where the word came from.

For example, watch this video on the derivation of the word "noise":

Plus, some of the words have some additional content on the TED-Ed Lesson Plan site. The lesson plan for the word "noise" has some additional questions to make you think about the etymology, a place to discuss your thoughts about this word with other people, and other resources, such as the top five sounds scientists have discovered are the worst for the human ear.  And just imagine--nails on a blackboard is only #5!  To listen to the sound of the single worst assault on human hearing, check out the lesson plan.

Right now, there are only a few words, but new videos are being added periodically.  So while it isn't a mainstay for vocabulary building, it is an intriguing resource for families like ours who are continually amazed at some of the way that English came to be as it is today.

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