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?

Seraphin Wed 22-May-13 17:28:49

If your child is learning about language, isn't it better if they can be given the vocabulary to be able to discuss it?

They only know a word is unusual if you make a fuss about it. Otherwise it's just another new word to use when talking about the world.

UniqueAndAmazing Wed 22-May-13 17:20:32


tiggytape Wed 22-May-13 17:19:18

See - once you start, you just can't stop! grin

UniqueAndAmazing Wed 22-May-13 15:51:52


UniqueAndAmazing Wed 22-May-13 15:51:37


tiggytape Wed 22-May-13 14:46:06

And synonym if the one for having a similar meaning.
It is impossible to say though (or is that just me?)


UniqueAndAmazing Wed 22-May-13 14:40:41

antonym - means the opposite of another word.

Panzee Tue 21-May-13 14:06:51

I always say "homonym" in Dr Evil's voice. He talks about them in Austin Powers 1. grin

TheBirdsFellDownToDingADong Tue 21-May-13 13:06:03

When I was at primary school (early 70s) we wrote stories in English.
When I was at secondary school we did 6 weeks of English followed by 6 weeks of no English, but woodwork instead.....

My English language knowledge came from doing A levels in foreign languages, followed by languages and linguistics at university followed by becoming a TEFL teacher.

It's great if finally the touchy feely fluffy "oooh we can't ask them to learn something that might be a bit hard, we might scar them for life" approach is falling by the wayside. I am sometimes astounded at how little kids do at school in the UK and how little they know when they leave.

tiggytape Tue 21-May-13 13:04:27

Yes - I know them and what they mean but only because I have one child in Year 7 and another nearing the end of primary.
I was never taught those terms at school and like OP got through an academic degree at an academic university where, in theory I suppose, I would have been expected to know these things.

Many of my friends with no children (including some with highly academic backgrounds) find it amusing that 7 year olds can explain onomatopoeia and they've never even heard of it.

Katnisscupcake Tue 21-May-13 12:58:03

I'm 38, had a grammar school education and have a fairly good job (and have done since I started FT employment at the age of 19) and I can honestly say that I've never heard of any of these words. blush

Maybe I was asleep during that part of my English lesson...

Wishiwasanheiress Tue 21-May-13 12:51:17

Bruno phrased that better!

Wishiwasanheiress Tue 21-May-13 12:50:47

I didn't off hand. But then seeing the descriptions I realise I had heard of them but forgotten them. I was interested in them.

Why shouldn't children be exposed to hard terms? Might they not be interested also? Or do you think our children are to dense....? Surely by offering harder things you stretch the child?

Brunocat Tue 21-May-13 12:47:08

I know what all of these mean but I am a teacher.

These are all useful terms - why shouldn't children learn them? Surely we should be trying to broaden their horizons and knowledge rather than trying to limit them just to the bare basics of what they might need when they grow up.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Tue 21-May-13 12:43:51

I love this thread.

choccyp1g Tue 21-May-13 10:11:03

Synonym - means the same as another word.

choccyp1g Tue 21-May-13 10:07:22

My dictionary is very clear on homonyms

Homophone - sounds the same (as another word)
Homograph - spelt the same
Homonym - either of the above

It is easier to use the correct words when discussing these concepts.

Funnily enough, my Y7 DS is leaarning them, having missed out in last year's Y6. I remember learning them in Y7, but would have struggled on homonym without last night;s refresher course.

Takver Tue 21-May-13 10:00:16

What age are you thinking of, OP? If they're being taught to 5 y/os, I'd agree that perhaps it is unnecessary (though actually I guess small children often like learning about words and would enjoy understanding some basic etymology).

If 10/11 year olds, then I'd have thought that they were useful concepts, and something that would have always been included in the English curriculum as standard (I'm sure we learnt those words/concepts at primary, and I am distinctly wrinkly grin )

therumoursaretrue Tue 21-May-13 09:52:06

I know definitions of all of these. Agree with previous posters that they are not ridiculous and actually quite useful.

cory Tue 21-May-13 09:16:34

They are the kind of concept that enriches reading by making you think about language and what we do with it. I am very glad my children are given the terminology to do that. I was taught to spell perfectly but never given the tools to think about what writers do.

Otoh my education was enhanced by being taught proper terminology for dealing with MFL; this means I understand a lot more about what is going on in e.g. French than dc are able to do. Understanding makes things more enjoyable. And it is far easier to understand things if you can put them into words.

mrselizabethdarcy Mon 20-May-13 23:41:04

ive never heard or come across any of them before! but can go to bed happy that ive learned something today :-)

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...

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.

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?

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.

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