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Circus Brothers Walcomb

Circus Brothers Walcomb poster. This is exactly how it felt in the classroom on Friday- a circus as I attempt the balancing act( not so elegantly) between the demands of the curriculum and time needed for investigations.

I have learnt finally ( !!) the power of remaining silent rather than revealing all the discoveries to be made or leaping in with a dazzling display of morphemic marvels and taking over. Had I not remained silent I would never have heard Sewoon’s question : why is the letter  ‘d’ absent in exclusion but present in exclude? We have noticed twin base elements before- rather, me pointing them out in passing (recently erode-erosion) but ‘showing’ my students does not mean they in fact know or understand this! Wrestling with a problem, or asking a question and giving students the space to explore and think helps understanding.

In today’s 20 minute explorations it was so tempting to alert the group to the fact that the base element is hum(e) in humiliation, or that per- in perpetrator is not another base but a prefix . Students  are often so close to finding this out for themselves and so much more valuable if they do so. The greatest lesson for me is to lead but not to reveal. This then becomes a juggling act – valuing the exploration but balancing it with the constraints of time and the pressure to get through what needs to be covered in an 80 minute humanities period.

Watch the group below work to analyze the morphology of perpetrator a word key to our current history studies.

Below  further investigations into humiliation:

Kate Burridge writes: ‘Folk etymology like so many linguistic processes we see, stems from our desire to make more familiar any word or expression that seems to us unusual. Once again we’re simply nipping off the awkward bits’. Crystal in the Encyclopedia of English Language states that ‘when people hear a foreign or unfamiliar word for the first time the try to make it fit by relating it to words they know well’. As Burridge indicates linguistic truth isn’t what is at issue here – it’s all about speaker’s perceptions. So here is Jasmins’ attempt to justify ‘humming’ as connected to the L  root humus. Imaginative and creative yes, accurate no folk etymologizing at work.

Image : a circus poster from a collection of  5000 Fin de Siècle posters stored in a converted silo in the town of  Chaumont (S.E. of Paris) . The silo is a centre for theatre, dance and graphic arts La maison du Livre et de l’Affiche (The House of the Book and the Poster.