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Although ‘linguistic brilliance’ refers to the play, it could easily apply to the etymology of this word.

Below are the latest batch of investigations into unusual words: pognotrophy, tarantism and ultracrepidarian.

Liam and  Adrian below discuss pognotrophy

Manya, from my other class, shares her investigation into the same word, pognotrophy

These clips are interesting to look back on .. partly to realize how I am not always aware of the implications as to what the student is saying, I need to pause longer and perhaps paraphrase and take in more of where they students are coming from. However, the advantage of recording allows me a second chance and the ability to say, ” I misinterpreted or failed to recognize what you suggested yesterday …”. Manya’s group showed confusions around around ‘troph’ and it was only when I when looked at this clip later that I realized where she had gone…  She indicated having seen ‘tropho-‘,in Online Etymology Dictionary.  She felt she needed to account for the ‘o’ and remove it to conform with the orthographic representation of this.

I realize I need to discuss that vowel suffixes remove final non- syllabic ‘e’s , trigger changes with a ‘y’ suffix and under particular circumstances can lead to a final consonant letter doubling.  Had Manya looked further and followed the link ((see -trophy)in the same Online Etymology Dictionary entry  perhaps she would have discovered the Greek root trephein to make thrive, nourish, rear, make solid, congeal, thicken, or Greek trophe food nourishment.  She then may have realized she did not need to account for the removal of the ‘o’. I also needed to make clearer the difference between the free base trophy which is from a totally different root.

These investigations raise the question for us as to what exactly is meant by  the term ‘word forming elements’ and ‘combining elements’ . Does this term refer to a base that occurs frequently, often in combination with another base therefore creating a compound word?  In that case is the ‘o’  a connecting vowel? I assume  as the word ‘trophic ‘ exists , where there is not an  ‘o’ anywhere in its orthographic formation, that ‘o’ therefore is a connecting vowel with ‘troph’ as the bound base.


Below Clarissa and Sydney share their investigation:

Alexis and Matteo share what they found:

I later checked the OED to find other forms of this word:

‘Also 18 tarentism, and (in Latin form) tarantismustarentismus.’  So the question now remains as to whether the base element is tar(e) +ant+ism


Interesting research here from Lucianna and Dorith into this word, once a Latin phrase.  Their research,as they indicate, is not complete. Questions arise as to the status of ‘ultra’ when Luciana  refers to an uncertainty as to whether this is a prefix or a base.  She has gathered some of her information from the Online Etymology Dictionary which suggests that ‘ultra’ is a word on its own meaning extremist, coined in 1817. If so does that mean ‘ultra’  is never a prefix or both a prefix and a base element? Below  Luciana and Dorith have written lucidly about their investigation so far:


Adjective: Going beyond one’s proper province; giving opinions on matters beyond one’s knowledge.
Noun: One who ventures beyond his scope; an ignorant or presumptuous critic.

Ultra+crepid+ary+ian (this needs more discussion)

Greek krepis “shoe” → Latin crepidam “sole of a shoe, sandal.” → Words of Pliny the Elder: “let the cobbler not judge above his sandal” → the English proverb “let the cobbler stick to his last”

On one occasion a cobbler noticed a fault in the painting of a shoe, and remarking upon it to a person standing by, passed on. As soon as the man was out of sight Apelles came from his hiding-place, examined the painting, found that the cobbler’s criticism was just, and at once corrected the error. … The cobbler came by again and soon discovered that the fault he had pointed out had been remedied; and, emboldened by the success of his criticism, began to express his opinion pretty freely about the painting of the leg! This was too much for the patience of the artist, who rushed from his hiding place and told the cobbler to stick to his shoes. [William Edward Winks, “Lives of Illustrious Shoemakers,” London, 1883]

This quote came from William Edward Winks, “Lives of Illustrious Shoemakers,” London, 1883.
A cobbler noticed a fault in the painting of a shoe. When the artist said he was right, he then began to criticize paintings quite freely and the artist got annoyed at him expressing his opinions so freely and told him to stick to his shoes.

Related words
ultracrepidate ,ultracrepidation, ultracrepidarian, ultracrepidarianism, crepidula

From the same root: cobbler

The girls found this in the OED:

crepidarian, adj. Etymology:  < Latin crepidāri-us shoemaker + -an suffixnonce-wd. (I need to explain the term nonce word. Perhaps a side-trip into the world of Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.)

Reference used by the girls in their research~





Again I learned so much from these student investigations into pognotrophy , ultracrepidarian, tarantism, perhaps even to be  a little wary of bearded cobblers dancing in a frenzied manner!