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Years ago there was a tv production, perhaps the one by MacNeill of MacNeill and Lehrer news, on the origins and development of the English language. They presented a Frisian speaker, a farmer, to show how similar some English words were to Frisian. "Cow" is the one that I recall, being nearly, but not exactly identical. Our "ow" sound was more like "eow" in Frisian but the resemblance was striking in this and the other words presented. They didn't go into the language structure. Friesland, which is I guess where they speak Frisian, was on the coast, not a far journey from England.

English is such a patchwork of overlays including Norse, French (hence Latin-based words), even a little Greek (dunno how that got introduced, maybe thru the French(?) or perhaps scholarly writings after the Renaissance when ancient Greek was rediscovered and studied by academics).

About Greek, we use the Greek language as a word-bank to make up new words when we need them, usually in scientific and medical contexts. The Greek word for a kid (child) is "pedi." The word for doctor is "yatros." Thus a pediatrician, or kid's doctor, is a combo of pediyatros.
Once I tumbled to this I figured that a lot of impressive sounding words we come across are cons and shucks designed to impress us rubes who are stuck with knowing primarily English.

When reading about science or technology and the development of new ideas you'll see references to the developer asking a colleague familiar with Greek to help make up a new word.

Photography (light writing) and telescope (far seeing) are a couple of quick examples. When Pacific Telephone and Telegraph wanted a name change they went for Pacific Telesis, PacTel for short. They wanted the "tel" root, meaning "far" as in far-ness, as in thinking, etc.

There's something about combining Greek roots that impresses us with the weighty appearing product and the resultant mystery. Until we have it de-mystified, that is.

-rs



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