When we were investigating the word <diameter>, we came up with an interesting list of words sharing the base element <meter> which means to measure. The original matrix created looked like this:
After looking this over, some wondered if some of the identified prefixes were really base elements with connecting vowels. There was only one way to know for sure! Working in pairs the words were researched with just that question in mind.
This investigation caused us to rethink our original matrix. It also reinforced our motto, ” When we know more, we adjust our original hypothesis.”
With our new evidence, we found four of the words to be compound words with connecting vowels. The remaining question raised is whether or not <meter> can be further analyzed. Several students recognized <er> as a suffix, but the question we have come to ask at that point is, ” Is it a suffix in this word?” The hypotheses suggested by my word investigators were <met> + <er> -> <meter> and <mete> + <er> -> <meter>.
I was in the diameter group and I was wondering about what Maia said. I was thinking about changing our word sum to ‘dia’+’met’+’er’. Because we know ‘dia’ to be a proven prefix and ‘er’ to be a proven suffix. The only part we would have to do research on would be proving ‘met’ to be a base. Also if we did prove ‘met’ to be a base, I would do ‘dia’+’mete’ (cross out the e) + ‘er’.
Greetings from Canada, where we enjoy reading about your work, and share with the British the spelling of words like ‘centimetre.’ (Squashed physically and historically between our British and American cousins, Canadian spelling has come to include features from both! In fact, we might be said to take the best from each in spelling and other areas, but that’s another broader discussion). Old Grouch beat me to it (as usual)! Now he has you thinking about how the structure of the word ‘metric’ is made problematic by the American spelling, consider the word ‘central’, whose base we spell ‘centre.’
Please don’t think we’re ganging up on you–I know he has as many examples of American spellings that make far more sense than the British!
We appreciate these comments. In fact, the students who were questioning whether ‘meter’ was really the base element did so because of the words ‘pedometry’ and ‘metric’. Your example of ‘central’ will fit in well with making sense of today’s discoveries!
Greetings from France, where the weather is so unseasonally cold that we are wearing our thermal underwear, though I don’t want to write a chronicle of our woes.
You could learn a lot from analysing the spellings ‘symmetry’ and ’synchronize’.
The Greek root of ‘meter’ is ‘metr(on)’, which is why ‘centimetre’ is a standard British English spelling. And rightly so, say I; France was the first country to adopt the metric (not, you will note, ‘meteric’) system on November 4th 1800 (the idea had been invented by a Frenchman in 1670). To talk of the metric system as such as existing before modern times would be an anachronism.
So while British English respects and has adopted the French – and Greek-consistent – spelling ‘centimetre’ etc., it has adopted the American spelling ‘meter’ to refer to ‘a machine or contraption for measuring something’. And that’s a useful distinction.
But in Old English (where it referred to poetry) the spelling was was actually ‘meter’. Fascinating!
I can’t tell you how much we enjoy your posts; we learn something new from you every time. Keep them coming!
Thank you for leading us in the direction of making new discoveries! After reading your comments, I reminded the students that when we were reading Roald Dahl books earlier in the year, we had kept track of the spelling differences in common words. I asked them to recall the words so we could list them on the board. We had favourite/favorite, colour/color, realise/realize, and finally centre/center.
Next I asked the big question. Why did Old Grouch suggest that we analyse the spellings of ‘symmetry’ and ‘synchronize’? What did he think we would find if we looked closer? That’s when the ‘metr’ was spotted. Then someone asked if ‘sym’ and ‘syn’ might mean the same thing – kind of like ‘con’ and ‘com’.
Thank you for sparking a delightful conversation, and a request to modify our matrix! “With pleasure! I replied.”