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Today I was determined to finish with ‘determination’! We had paused and caught up with other aspects in the class so it was with fresh eyes to consider the data again. As I checked group lists, I noticed that many students were rushing through the analysis of raw data from the word searcher. I was concerned that they may assume syllables are elements and were plonking ‘+’ signs willy-nilly between syllables. Others I was pretty certain just weren’t checking roots! Hence ‘termites’  ‘countermand’, ‘intermarry’ and ‘intermediary’ had weaseled their way onto a few lists as sharing the same base element. It’s not that I expect error-free, far from it- but I did want students to check if they were not sure of a word or if they recognized a word, they should have considered whether it had the echo from the root meaning ‘finish’ or ‘end’.

A common misconception was that ‘in’ was a suffix rather than <-ine>. Instead of saying they were wrong I had made notes on their google doc. asking them to prove to me that their analysis was correct  by providing evidence of the morphemes  found in other words or to come up with further questions for one another. Many were puzzled as to why others had reinstated the ‘e’ in <-ate> in words like <extermination> to be realized as <ex+term+ine+ate+ion>. It was, however, great to watch students explain this vowel suffixing pattern to others, reminding them of what they had discovered in a previous lesson. Students were again reminded to use the prefix charts and the list of suffixes we have so far discovered. Again as they realized just because something looks like a suffix or a prefix does not mean it is, as one student put it “You actually need to think about all the elements’ and then need to consider whether it is ‘logical and possible’!

Despite quite a lot of moans that “this is hard”, it ended up being a productive twenty minutes with many questions for one another and me. Areas for further investigation will be the status of <-ology> or <o+logy> or  <o+log+y>. We saw <ology>listed as a noun, although ‘humorous and informal’ according to the Mac Dictionary. We also noted in the same dictionary that <-ology> is a ‘combining form or common form for <log>’. Even trusty Online Etymology states ‘word- forming element indicating branch of knowledge, ‘science’, now the usual form of –logy.’  We saw how it was used in nonce formation since 1800 where ‘the ‘o’ is a stem vowel in the previous element.’ A couple of students asked isn’t the ‘o’ in <terminology> specifically, just a ‘connecting vowel’? I explained I too was uncertain but my hunch until I research further, is that <log> is another base element. We noticed when we searched under ‘logy’ in Online Etymology dictionary, that many other words appeared <cardio+logy>, <cyto+logy>, <seismo+logy>. Presumably the first element is the stem with ‘o’ as part of this. We saw that <logy> is listed as a suffix coming from Greek logia: study, theory  from the root Greek root legian to speak and therefore speak of a particular subject. Our question therefore remains about <terminology>. Are the morphemes  < term+ ine + o+logy> or is it <term+ine+o+log+y>. To be held onto as a ‘wondering’ for a while!

I remain impressed with the way students talked and worked with one another to address my queries. I was impressed by their persistence and by their questions. They are becoming more explicit about where they are confused rather than the blanket, “I don’t get it”! They are recognizing that you need to analyze data carefully. They are becoming slowly more familiar with suffixes and prefixes. They have become aware that a related word means a word that shares the same base. Cynthia (below) eloquently sums up the understanding she now has of the word ‘determination’ and what she has learned through this investigation.

Tonight students are writing about determination and whether it’s applicable to Odysseus. Some samples below from the two incomplete drafts suggest they have a solid understanding of this word  and the wily Odysseus.


‘The word “determination” means to see the future beyond the boundaries or to be committed to finishing something. The base, term, is a free base element which comes from the Latin root, terminus meaning the end, boundary, or limit. This word consists of five elements, one prefix, one base element, and three suffixes. Some similes of determination are committed, assurance, or boldness. The word sum of “determination” is de+ term+ in+ ate+ ion. The <e> is slashed off in the suffix <ate> because it is a non-syllabic letter <e> (silent). The suffix <-ion> is a vowel suffix which is part of the reason we slash off the <e> in the previous suffix , and  it tells us that this word is a noun.

There are many ways the word “determination” applies to Odysseus. For example, he was determined to sack the city of Troy, fight off all the obstacles in his way such as the Cyclops, and even just returning to his home country, Ithaca, to see his son, Telemachus, and his wife, Penelope, and fighting off the suitors who want to marry his wife and take over Ithaca. This all explains his determination, even the small things he did that maybe I hadn’t written in, these are only a few examples. His determination also shows he is loyal to his family and he is very courageous. …’

From Oluwadaru:

‘Determination is ending a problem; making a decision; Pushing to the limit;  to persevere ; to see it through to the end. The word sum for the word determination is de+term+in(e)+at(e)+ion.  The word determination is made up of five morphemes. It is made up of one prefix, one base element and three suffixes.The base element is -term which comes from Latin Terminus or Terminara, the  Roman god of boundary. The element -term is a free base element because it is a word on its own. The word term means end or boundary. In British schools, they use term, for the end of the semester or trimester.  All three suffixes are vowel suffixes because they start with a vowel.  Synonyms for the word determination are perseverance and persistence.
Zeus struck a lightning bolt and all of Odysseus’ men died. Odysseus is the only one left alive and spared by the gods.  He floated and paddled away on a small raft and clung on to a tree for hours.
“ For hours I clung to that trunk…..gulped the ocean down.”(Pg. 149, Odysseus)
Odysseus was determined to hold on to that trunk. He was forced to put a lot of effort into holding that trunk, he would have fallen into the Charybdis. Even though he eventually fell, the gods preserved him. In the picture illustrated, you can see the features that signify that he is putting all of his effort into holding the tree trunk. Sweat is dripping from his forehead, eyes are closed and his teeth are gritted. He could hear hear the Charybdis and terrible thoughts may be going through his head that strengthens him to hang on.

Odysseus had a choice to make the Charybdis or the Scylla. If he goes closer to the Charybdis, then all of them would surely dies, but if they go closer to the Scylla, she will eat six of his men at once and the remaining will have a chance of getting out and escaping.
“But I armed myself……from the enemy above.” ( Pg. 139 Odysseus, Sailors and Scylla)
Odysseus chose the Scylla route because they had more of a chance to be alive. He was very determined to defend his men as best as he could. His face looks so determined. His is standing straight and tall, he is armed and looking forward with a frown. Hinds’ next image then zooms into his face and there is sweat dripping down. Determination.’

Image: John Waterhouse’s Odysseus lashed to the mast determined to hear the sirens.