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This image is a satire on Banks“The Botanic Macaroni”. A macaroni was a pejorative term used for a follower of exaggerated continental fashion in the 18th Century.

It has been a ‘long and winding road’, a bumping along in fits and starts as Huy and I try to determine the base elements in present day English arising from the Latin root pater, father.

Watch our less than graceful leaping between etymology and morphology, our bumbling diachronic and synchronic analysis! We follow leads and I often lead my companion astray into perhaps unnecessary but interesting diversions.

This particular journey on this long and winding road began with an investigation in to the word ‘perpetration’. This journey has required patience and persistence and I applaud my companion on this quest, Huy, who has not wavered but continues to ask questions and research which takes us even further into the wordy wilderness. All too often one question leads to another and then another and we realize we have strayed far from the path. Perhaps because he asks the questions and notices patterns, or has been challenged by my questions and puzzlement, Huy’s motivation and engagement in his research remains high.

Asking students to support their claims about morphemes with evidence is integral in this process. We have lists that as a class we have built for suffixes but as Huy indicates it is far from exhaustive. We have a prefix list (courtesy of Real Spelling) and this has been a critical support for students in developing initial confidence in morphemic analysis.

Note my felonious dodging away from felon… I know I need more thinking than time in this session permits and I would be again drifting further off the path and purpose of our investigation. Nevertheless, I lead Huy astray again with other brief glimpses of words: –on: ‘beckon’, ‘button’, not really staying long enough to establish anything. Yet these discursions offer unexpected and tantalizing word-vistas encountered on the journey .

In the final video below, Huy postulates that –ern is a suffix in paternal. I had never considered this a suffix.  Of course I have seen it often, just not identified or recognized it,  nor the suffix -ot.  As Huy shows, neither was on our list! We felt like botanists returning with precious specimens from expeditions, an apt analogy, as horticultural terminology ‘flourishes’ in linguistics with roots and stems and hybrids as Australian linguist Kate Burridge indicates in her books  Blooming English, and Weeds in the Garden of Words

The image above is one the great plant explorers, Joseph Banks a member along with Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander, of Cook’s expedition to record the transit of Venus and plant and animal life encountered on this voyage to the South Pacific. Yet even the great Banks, the ‘virtuso’ botanist as Robert Hughes calls him, could be led astray! In his desire to collect more specimens when the crew were restocking water and wood supplies in Tierra del Fuego, Banks, his fellow botanist Daniel Solander and their plant foraging party, fell prey to assumptions about the weather and blithely ventured off the beaten track. Read here about the dangers of straying and assumptions- of bogs, epileptic fits, exhaustion, blizzards, hypothermia, loyal greyhounds and death!

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