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Question: Do you know these English language terms?

(71 Posts)
HenriettaHedgehog Mon 20-May-13 21:29:34

Homonym, ellipsis, etymology.

Without googling their definition?

I'm just trying to comprehend why children will need to learn these terms. I have completed my degree and lead a successful adult life without needing to understand what these are. So why, oh why, are they priorities in the Programme of Study for English?!
Now the definitions of these words are all straight forward and I recognise the need for children to structure their language fluently and eloquently, however this can be achieved a multitude of ways without forcing them to learn the definitions of ridiculous words.

I would really appreciate other views on this. Have you ever needed to refer to these terms in your adult life?

SirChenjin Mon 20-May-13 21:33:19

I do know that I did know what they meant at one time in my life....just as I knew how to work out the circumference of a circle, how to do quadratic equations, and what the different types of rock formations are.

I think there are lots of things that we learn at school which have no basis in our day to day thinking, depending what we do for a living. Does that mean we shouldn't learn them? hmm

mrz Mon 20-May-13 21:35:13

All the time but it could be because I'm a teacher grin
seriously we were taught these terms and many more when I was at school in the dark ages. I think there are less useful things in the NC

StealthOfficialCrispTester Mon 20-May-13 21:36:15


UltimaThule Mon 20-May-13 21:36:54

They are just words which represent concepts.
The concepts are useful, aren't they?
I don't find them ridiculous at all confused

StealthOfficialCrispTester Mon 20-May-13 21:37:08

I do no where these words come from...

nightingalefloor Mon 20-May-13 21:37:16

Yes. I have an English lit A level though. No chance my 8 year old would.

mrz Mon 20-May-13 21:37:19

As SirChenjin says is technical language no different to knowing the circumference or trapezium etc.

Beehatch Mon 20-May-13 21:37:43

I do, do I get a prize?

EleanorHandbasket Mon 20-May-13 21:38:22

grin Stealth. V good.

StealthOfficialCrispTester Mon 20-May-13 21:39:25

Phew that no one has corrected my 'no'

scaevola Mon 20-May-13 21:40:23


I don't see them as unusual terms at all, and are useful if you are discussing how language works. So whilst you might not discuss the language day to day, they have a obvious importance for a Programme of English.

AViewFromTheFridge Mon 20-May-13 21:40:24

Ellipsis - easier than saying "dot dot dot"
Etymology - helps with spelling and working out the meanings of unfamiliar words.
Homonym - another one that helps with spelling.

Surely it's better to know the exact term for something, rather than having to try and describe it. It's like saying, "Why do I have to know that fruit's called a banana? I've been calling it the long yellow bendy one all my life and it's never done me any harm!"

HumphreyCobbler Mon 20-May-13 21:41:06

Yes I know what they mean. I don't see why they would be considered ridiculous words.

grin Stealth

gallicgirl Mon 20-May-13 21:41:08

I'm not sure of ellipsis and I used to tefl!

MammaMedusa Mon 20-May-13 21:42:44

I think they are all quite useful words in discussing language.

We had a mother complain this year about carnivore, herbivore, omnivore being ridiculous words and why couldn't we just use meat-eater and plant-eater. But then the omnivore would have to be a meat-and-plant-eater, or a anything-eater...

If the definition of a word is quite straightforward, and discrete, then why not use it?

plantsitter Mon 20-May-13 21:43:23

They are not ridiculous words. Sure, you could describe the concepts with lots of different words but why bother when you can use one?

And surely it depends what your degree was as to how useful these words would be. I couldn't've got mine without knowing. Anyone who wants to talk about language, or history, or literature could make good use of them.

SirChenjin Mon 20-May-13 21:43:30

Just googled them to remind myself of their meaning - far more interesting than sedimentary, metamorphic and gneous rocks and definitely far more useful.

Phineyj Mon 20-May-13 21:44:36

Yes but I am nerdy about these things. Don't ask me what a gerund is though...

Also I have noticed ellipses are like chocolate is never enough...

HenriettaHedgehog Mon 20-May-13 21:45:35

I agree, I just know there are much more purposeful and meaningful ways to teach children to speak and write well than through learning the definitions of endless complicated terms.

thegreylady Mon 20-May-13 21:45:47

Yes of course I do but I am/was an English teacher and words are the tools of my trade.
You wouldn't call a spade a longish pole with a short handle at one end and a metal blade at the other used for digging would you?

Ellipsis-easy definition- three dots used to signify one idea 'sliding' into another.

scaevola Mon 20-May-13 21:46:10

Gerunds are pretty straightforward really. It's gerundives that I get muddled with.

Teapot13 Mon 20-May-13 21:49:10

I agree with previous posters that these words are useful, although I have to admit I have not had to use "homonym" in my adult life.

Aside from that, I think as an intellectual exercise it is useful to learn categories and then put things into categories, even if you later don't use the word "homonym." Lots of things we learn in school aren't literally useful but they help us train our brains.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Mon 20-May-13 21:49:12

I know what they are too. Surely most people do?

UniqueAndAmazing Mon 20-May-13 21:49:50

hominym a word that sounds the same as another word.
ellipses ...
etymology the stydy of words origin history and meaning.

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