Roughly 50% of all English words – and a much higher percentage of our prefixes and suffixes—are derived from the Latin language. Greek has virtually the same influence on modern English. Knowing the word roots of these two major languages and their presence in our vocabulary enables us to know what words mean and in most cases why they mean that. Children and adults alike benefit from a daily exercise in Latin and Greek roots and there are flash card sets available to aid in this constant refresher, as well as clear and concise volumes to show this information on an introductory basis.
In the medieval period in Europe, Latin was the language of learning and the learned. All professional fields of endeavor – Law, Medicine, Philosophy, Real Property – used Latin as the common language. Today, the presence of Latin has not diminished in these fields and much of the professional vocabulary is entering everyday speech in America today. “Ingress” and “egress” are common terms in real property, astronomy and law; anyone who purchases a house quickly learns their meanings. “Quid pro quo” (this for that) more commonly describes “You do something for me, I’ll do something for you” situations.
The prefixes “ab” meaning “away from, off or down” and “ad”, “toward, on or up” can be found relating to the gym and its equipment. There are two machines, called a hip abductor and a hip adductor. One brings the legs inward to work the inner thighs; the other requires the use to push the legs outward to work the outer thighs. The terms “anterior” and “posterior” meaning front and back, respectively, are frequently used in consumer medicine and treatments. Even a word like “contraindication” for warnings of mixing two medicines or allergen information is composed with the Latin prefix for “against”.
Studies have proven that students who possess a solid, working knowledge of Latin and Greek word roots score much higher on the SAT, ACT and other similar tests. Having a broad vocabulary comfortably at your disposal allows you to express your ideas and thinking, rapidly and clearly – important aspects when taking timed exams that require pinpoint thinking and communicating under pressure. Our thinking or non-verbal vocabulary is typically much larger than our spoken vocabulary, and in producing essays and other forms of formal writing, our full vocabulary comes into play. It is wonderful to have just the right word at your fingertips with which to express your thoughts.
Anyone who wishes to put his/her best thoughts forward should invest time and energy in learning Latin and Greek word roots in English. A simple, daily practice will reap tremendous rewards in a short time!