Latin, a language spread by the Roman from Britain to Egypt, has had a lasting impact on languages all over the world. There aren’t many Romance languages in total, compared to the over 7000 languages in the world. The Romance languages include: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, and Portuguese among many other languages.
This was spoken from the time that Rome was still a kingdom to about the middle of the Roman Republic. It had originally used a right-to-left script, however it changed to a left-to-right script.
Classical Latin began to develop as more people of the time wrote more and more. Poets, historian, and scholar wrote in this language. Further standardization of the language was established when grammar and literature school were established.
Vulgar Latin was the language spoken by the commoners of the Roman Empire. This had no official script, thus historians have found it difficult to place together a language, however there is evidence in various graffiti and excerpts mentioned in literature. Different places may have had different variants of “Vulgar Latin” forming an early base for languages to develop.
Latin had begun to spread to other places that had never encountered languages, and mostly remained unchanged from its written form. It adopted new vocabulary from other languages as it interacted with more and more languages.
The Renaissance renewed interest in Latin, however Latin had changed a lot since the days of Classical Latin. Scholars attempted to reform and relearn Latin as it had been. Most of the books written in that age were in Latin. The “Renaissance Humanists” were mostly the ones heading this.
In relatively modern times, scientists began using a renewed form of Latin for words related to taxonomy or the International Scientific Vocabulary. Words from this “edition” of Latin have had some of the biggest influences on the English language.
“Chrys-” means gold, golden or yellow. The root comes from the Greek word chrysos which means gold. The root is in 201 entries. There are many words related to flowers and valuable items.
- chryselephantine- Chryselephantine means made of cold and ivory. You can see the word “elephant” in chryselephantine with signifies ivory.
- chrysanthemum- A chrysanthemum is a flower also known as a corn marigold. It also comes from the Greek root “anth” meaning flower. Fun Fact: The chrysanthemum is used as the official seal of the Imperial Family of Japan.
- chrysemys- This is a breed of turtle also known as a painted turtle. It has yellowish markings.
- chrysograph- A chrysograph is when someone writes in gold. It also comes from the Greek root “-graph” meaning to write.
- chrysoprase- Chrysoprase is a apple-green variety of chalcedony which is a gemstone.
Today was the NASCC spelling in Riverside, California. Students from China and the US came together to spell words. The nighttime finals went on for 18 rounds with words like sassolin (a mineral), ephelis (freckles), and kantele (Finnish harp).
After 6 rounds of going back and forth, Shourav Dasari spelled “anisakiasis” to become the champion of the NASCC spelling bee. Anisakiasis, a parasitic infection, comes from a couple Greek roots. “Anis-” means unequal and akis, a Greek ending used as and ending for numerical adverbs. “-iasis” is suffix used to signify a medical condition or disease.
Once again, I congratulate all of the spellers who participated in the finals:
Many of the words that we use in our daily life have prehistoric origins coming from times beyond writing. Spoken language has become something so common and representative of human existence. As people spread throughout the world, languages changed and developed. As a result, there are over 7,000 languages being used in the world today.
English, one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, is an interesting language. It is more of a conglomeration of various words that were brought over from other languages. Despite having Germanic origins linguistically, the English language has over 60% of words originating from Latin or Greek.
I will be going through various languages and language families in these types of posts. I will be focusing a bit more on Indo-European languages since they are some of the most prevalent languages.
The root “chalc-” has various spellings. It comes from the Greek word chalkos meaning copper. However it can mean copper, brass or bronze.
- aurichalcite– this a mineral that consists of a basic copper zinc carbonate. It is a very pretty shade of turquoise.
- chalcogen– a chalcogen is any of the four elements oxygen,sulfur, selenium, or tellurium. Chalcogens, essentially meaning “copper creator” were called as such since those four elements were found in many ores.
- leucochalcite– this is a basic arsenate of copper that crystallized as white needles. The root “leuco-” means white.
- chalkography– this is the study of opaque minerals under the microscope. This also comes from the Greek root “-graphy” meaning the writing on a certain subject.
- orichalc/h– this is a brass rich in zinc. This was considered precious by the ancient Greek. Orichalc also contains “ori-” meaning mountain.
The root “burs” comes from the Latin word bursa which means purse. In turn, bursa came from the Greek word meaning hide or leather. This root is in many words of the English language as shown below.
Purse- this is a relatively simple word, but it is a direct translation from the Latin word.
Bursary- this is a treasury of a college, this is related to a purse because they’re used for holding money.
Bourse- a place where merchants meet for business, Many words with the root “burs” have definitions related to money.
Bolson- a flat-floored desert valley, this is a little indirect, but the word bursa went from Latin to Spanish where it became bolsa.
Bursicle- this is a botanical term meaning a small pouch which is essentially a purse.
The root “sphingo-” comes from the Greek word sphingein which means to to hold fast. There are 12 different entries containing this root.
- glycosphingolipid- any of various lipids (such as a cerebroside or a ganglioside)
- sphingometer- an instrument for measuring the bending of a strut (as by deflection of beams of light)
- sphingomyelin- any of a group of crystalline phospholipids that are obtained especially from nerve tissue and that on hydrolysis yield a fatty acid
- sphingosine- an unsaturated amino obtained by hydrolysis of various sphingomyelins, cerebrosides, and gangliosides
- Sphinx- this word may not seem to contain the root, however, the Sphinx in Greek mythology would ask a riddle to any travelers and if they could not answer correctly, she would bind them with a curse.
Many words with the root “sphingo-” are related to lipids in some way. Going into a bit of chemistry, lipids are long chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms which are bound together.
The root “omphal/o-” comes from the Greek word omphalos meaning “navel.” There are 14 entries in the dictionary containing this root.
- omphalitis- Inflammation of the umbilicus
- omphaloid- resembling an umbilicus
- omphalomesenteric- of or relating to the umbilicus and mesentery
- omphaloskepsis- meditation while staring fixedly at one’s navel
- omphalion- the center of the umbilicus
Roots are a huge part of spelling bee and words in general. Many Latin and Greek words contain roots. But roots aren’t exclusive to those languages. For the next few days I will be investigating over roots and various words containing that root.
Roots are like the building blocks words. Each root has its own tale, as it came from its original language. Sometimes the root can have a literal meaning that is evident in the definition or a more subtle influence on the word.