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Parts of Speech
Latin Words in EnglishAfter I'd been studying Latin for a while, I noticed something about English, and was amazed that I'd never noticed it before.
The fancy-sounding words in English are mostly just simple words from Latin … are mostly, in fact, literal Latin translations of the corresponding simple Germanic words in English.
The word “exit”, for example, when used as a verb, strikes me as sort of fancy. The simple Germanic way to say the same thing would be to use the phrase “go out”, and, indeed, that's exactly what “exit” means—it's a combination of the prefix “ex-”, “out”, with the word “it”, which is the third-person singular form of “eo”, “I go”. In English, the word “exit” is fancy, but in Latin it's the plainest possible way of talking about going out.
So, that's the idea or principle I wanted to explain. If you'd like to see more examples, well, you can find some in the essays listed in the index, at right … notably, in the essays Useless Words and Present Participle (-ens).
If you wanted a fancy name for a snake, you'd call it a serpent, right? Well, here's a funny thing I just noticed: “serpent” is not the Latin translation of “snake”! It's Latin all right, but it's a present participle used as a noun—it comes from “serpo”, which, according to my dictionary, means “to creep, crawl”. So, “serpent” is actually a literal translation of “creepy-crawly”.
Powers of N
Present Participle (-ens)
Relation to English
Right of Way
o March (2000)
@ May (2001)
o June (2003)