Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gates: Latin Word-Building

Latin Word-Building by Charles O. Gates (1887)

The book consists of "root words with their more common derivatives and their meanings illustrated by sentences taken from Caesar and Cicero." The book is organized alphabetically, with root word entries that contain derivatives of those root words, although definitions are not provided for the derivatives; only the root word is defined. This listing takes appx. 50 pages. Then comes the interesting part of the book: the root word list is presented again, this time with lists of sentences from Caesar and Cicero that contain an example of the root word or one of its derivates. So, for example, here is the entry for ager:

ager. a. 1. Rhenus agrum Helveticum a Germanis dividit. 2. Agricultura prohibebantur. b. 1. Caius Gracchus agrarios concitatre conatus est. 2. Ii nonnullos agrestes homines in eandem illam spem rapinarum veterum impulerunt.

It seems to me that the meaninglessness of these sentences taken out of context limits the usefulness of this book - but I can definitely imagine such an arrangement working nicely for proverbs, which can stand on their own and be meaningful!


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