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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?

UniqueAndAmazing Mon 20-May-13 21:50:53

I use the word ellipses all the time.

and I have spoken about etymology to children in my professional capacity.

StealthOfficialCrispTester Mon 20-May-13 21:51:07

Ok maybe I dont know homonum

HumphreyCobbler Mon 20-May-13 21:53:34

This is a gerund

SirChenjin Mon 20-May-13 21:53:51

I don't think they would simply be taught the definitions of endless complicated (are they complicated??) terms though, just as you wouldn't learn about chemical compounds by memorising the periodical table and nothing else. I'm pretty sure they would be taught by application to practical examples - although I'm sure a teacher would be able to explain what actually happens far more accurately!

Yes I know them, and no my degree isn't in Eng Lit. I use two of them regularly in casual discussion.

They're technical terms for things that will naturally need to be discussed in literacy lessons from the age of 5 onwards, and trying to paraphrase them all the time would be a genuine PITA. I personally find the naff little paraphrases of things that have perfectly good names that are used in primary schools really really annoying, though I admit that they are sometimes necessary.

UniqueAndAmazing Mon 20-May-13 21:54:49

I knew i'd spelt it /wrong but couldn't work out how...

and it's not just one idea melting into another, it's also a tool to make the reader guess what happens next. (ellispses)

WidowWadman Mon 20-May-13 21:54:59

Yes, and I'm not a native speaker. The words aren't ridiculous, but very useful.

MammaMedusa Mon 20-May-13 21:59:30

Surely they are not being forced to just memorise the definitions of the terms but rather to use the concepts?

I remember clearly being taught (around age ten) about the etymology of tri and then having to think of many words beginning with tri that all had a "three-ness" to them. I remember because the boy next to me then rapidly though to octopus/octagon and wanted to know why October was the 10th month, not the 8th!

I remember clearly having it explained that it started as the eight month, but then July and August were added to honour Julius and Augustus Caesar. (I actually now know this is not quite true, but it shows how memory of lessons can stick when taught well - in this case the concept that words have a history, or etymology, which can help you understand them. I still use this to help my to figure out word meanings and to spell).

UniqueAndAmazing Mon 20-May-13 22:01:44

yy me too mamma . I love etymology!

Thatssofunny Mon 20-May-13 22:02:34

Know all three, use all three. English isn't my first language,...but I have a degree in English linguistics and I teach upper KS2. grin

HenriettaHedgehog Mon 20-May-13 22:05:09

But what about reading high quality texts and engaging in critical discussion? These activities would achieve the same outcomes: children using well structured language. I do however, take back my use of the word ridiculous. These words are important and do have a place, it's just my opinion they belong in secondary school classrooms and not primary.

SconeRhymesWithGone Mon 20-May-13 22:08:02

I know them; I have used two of them in recent posts. We were talking about the etymology of "woman" in Feminism/Women's Rights chat just this past weekend.

BooksandaCuppa Mon 20-May-13 22:09:22

Yep, I know what they all mean. Yes, I would use them in everyday language (though in all honesty, probably 'homonym' the least often) and I would expect older primary aged children to use 'etymology' and 'ellipsis' too.

As others have pointed out, there are literally thousands of things which we might learn at school and not use every day afterwards - why pick on these particular words (and the great thing about precise language and technical terms is that they replace a much longer phrase you might use trying to describe them)? It's really important in the development of thinking skills to have a large vocabulary to draw on. The larger your vocabulary, the more precise AND creative you can be.

scaevola Mon 20-May-13 22:15:46

It would be rather difficult to engage in critical discussion of high quality texts without the terminology that facilitates such discussion in the first place. Homonyms and ellipsis aren't advanced terms and I can see no reason whatsoever to say they're any more unsuitable for primary school children than say metaphor, simile, apostrophe or colon.

And etymology is fun, and it's not a remotely complicated term, I don't see any reason to exclude that either especially as it is such a good area for enrichment of vocabulary and appreciation of texts.

jkklpu Mon 20-May-13 22:20:47

The terms would aid a discussion of the high-level texts you want children to read, OP. I'm sure you can think of more objectionable things about your kids' schooling, can't you? You're not winning this argument.

oohaveabanana Mon 20-May-13 22:21:56

I'm assuming they would be taught at top end of primary? My ds (just 9) uses ellipsis regularly, and dd (y2) knows the concept although would describe it as 'dot, dot, dooooottttt'

Both also know the meaning, although probably not the term, homonym.

Surely learning the technical vocab for a subject is part of any study area?

ghosteditor Mon 20-May-13 22:24:49

I do know what they all mean. I use them all; some professionally (I'm in publishing) but also personally, when I want to describe something, or do a crossword.

Seriously grin

SacreBlue Mon 20-May-13 22:30:38

There are so many words, phrases and acronyms in English we couldn't possibly learn them all.

I would personally just be happy my DCs little brains were being filled up with 'ellipsis' and 'homonym' rather than 'yolo' or 'swag'

moonbells Mon 20-May-13 22:31:29

I learnt about etymology in my 1st year of senior school, when the English teacher was very insistent we write etymologies of words with definitions in our 'interesting words' book, and that we bought ourselves etymological dictionaries. I still love looking up word origins. Thankyou Mr Enfield.

Precision in language is also a hallmark of science, so it's good to know how to describe something as accurately as possible.

AChickenCalledKorma Mon 20-May-13 22:41:02

Yes, I know what they mean. But only since DD1 brought home her SPAG workbooks. She turns out to be very good indeed at pointless grammar exercises and has taught me all sorts of things this term!

SanityClause Mon 20-May-13 22:52:12

I'm Australian, and we were taught "homophone" rather than "homonym".

(My iPad wants to change homophone to homophobe, bizarrely... << ellipses, there.)

brdgrl Mon 20-May-13 22:57:45

Yes. If my kids weren't being taught this at school, I'd be seriously considering moving them.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 20-May-13 22:59:10

Homophones and homonyms aren't the same thing.

Homophones sound the same, homonyms are spelt the same (like 'tear' as in 'drop of water from your eye' and 'tear' as in, 'to rip'). At least I think so.

I know them, and I do English Lit., but I think it shouldn't matter too much if someone can't learn them. It's good to try to learn the technical terminology, but IMO it should be a lesson you try and then move on from afterwards, rather than something you keep worrying about.

If a GCSE student forgot some of these words during an exam and had to use a circumlocution, that shouldn't matter IMO. I would hope what they're doing at primary level is just introducting some new concepts and new works, and hoping some of them stick for later on?

breatheslowly Mon 20-May-13 22:59:43

I thought I did, but a quick google shows that I have got homonym confused with synonym. Ellipsis & etymology I'm ok with, but I can get etymology confused with entomology.

TolliverGroat Mon 20-May-13 23:01:13

Yes, I do. [#]

What would you have schools use instead of the word "homonym" when they are teaching children about homonyms, by the way? You can't say "words that are pronounced the same but are spelled differently and that have different meanings" every single time you want to refer to them.

[#] Although I had no idea of the fierce debate that apparently rages on the precise distinctions between homonyms, homophones and homographs. AIBU has nothing on it...

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