#106 A Word Root Quiz

Published on October 2, 2006

Contents
=> A Root Word Quiz
=> Make Your Own Root Word Quizzes
=> Answers to the Word Root Quiz
=> In the Next Issues

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A Word Root Quiz
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Here are some common words in English that come from Amerindian words, from indigenous languages of north, south, and Central America.

Identify the modern English word derived from the following 12 Amerindian words. First you’ll see the word, then the original language (in parenthesis), then a definition or hint.

Source: http://www.zompist.com/indianwd.html
Compiled by Mark Rosenfelder

1. barbricot (Caribbean). A way of cooking meat.

2. ahuacatly (Nahuatl). A green fruit with a large seed, popular in California and South America, unusual in Europe and Asia.

3. caryba (Tupi) A person who eats people.

4. acaju (Tupi) A nut which has a curved crescent shape.

5. xocolatl (Nahuatl) A yummy sweet desert, although long ago the Aztecs made an unsweetened drink of it.

6. chilli (Nahuatl) A hot and spicy food flavorer.

7. xoc (Maya) A big fish that nobody wants to see when they’re swimming.

8. tomatl (Nahuatl) The red fruit/veggie that you put in salads and sandwiches.

9. papaya (Carib) A fruit. Ever tried it?

10. xacalli (Nahuatl) A thatched cabin; a shanty; a cheap cabin.

11. batata (Taino) A staple food from the earth. People fry it, boil, and mash it.

12. coyotl (Nahuatl). A dog-like animal who likes to howl at night. Smaller than a wolf.

Note: Lots of words come from Nahuatl. It was originally the Aztec language. The current form is spoken by 1.5 million people, most of them in Mexico.

Answers after “Make Your Own Root Quiz”

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Make Your Own Word Root Quiz
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Now, how about giving this quiz to your students? You can write the above information on the board, perhaps dictating the definition and hints.

In and of itself, the above word root chart is not the greatest activity. That’s why you should ask your students to make their own word root charts, using the above as a model. Students will find their own words, write their own definitions and hints. (That’s a better language-learning activity).

They might want to choose all the words from one language, like Hawaiian, Urdu, Hausa, or Russian–or any language that interests them. They can find 10 word roots on the Internet or in dictionaries.

When each student–or pair of students–brings the chart to class, you can pass them out, rotating them through the students so that pairs or groups can speculate on and write the modern English words. Or, if you can, make copies of the students’ charts.

You will find that students make for some of the best materials developers.

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Answers to the Word Root Quiz
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Answers: 1. barbeque. 2. avocado. 3. cannibal. 4. cashew. 5. chocolate. 6. chili. 7. shark. 8. tomato. 9. papaya. 10. hut. 11. potato. 12. coyote (pronounced ‘KAI-yo-tee’)

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In the Next Issues
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We’ll have some critical thinking activities on flags and nationalism. Perhaps a text about coyotes. A fascinating article on the Slavic-American music connection. Some polite words for “fat.” And some mean words for “polite.” What else could you want?

Copyright 2006 Kevin McCaughey & IM Poosheesty


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