The Etymology of Education (inspired by @cherrymp)


Have you ever joined an …

If not, I heartily heartily recommend it.  Today, we explored “Dogme with adult beginners” , and I just finished writing my first summary.  Brilliant chat, and there was one tweet that really caught my language geek eye (just like a few months ago in the ELTchat Etymology: Dogme Flies Unite! post).

I’d like to elaborate on @cherrymp‘s comment about the etymological roots of Education. The base is”duct” and we can see it in tons of modern english words below. The latin root is DUX, and actually brings us the english word Duke, as its meaning was “to lead” “to draw out”, “to conduct”.

Quite a seductive introduction to one wordle production of language abduction and reproduction over time… sorry… language geek interlude…  I love the way words like that shine new and different after seeing their roots.  In my very first post on this blog I talked about how “learn” and “teach” used to mean the same thing== to teach.


If etymologically one, how and why has teaching and learning separated itself over the years ?

With that in mind, I’ll leave you with this question:

How can we bring more “eDUCe” into class, and let the DUKE take a back seat ?

Is Dogme an answer for you, or what’s your take on integrating more “listening” and student-driven content into your classroom ?




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  • Ceri Jones

    Hi Brad,
    Love it :)
    Not in answer to your final question but … in Welsh we only have one verb for teach and learn (dysgu)  – dwi’n dysgu Cymraeg can either mean I’m learning or I’m teaching Welsh – I like to see it as both at the same time – thanks for bringing that bubbling to the surface as I prepare my beginners Welsh course for August :)

  • LP Hanratty

    It’s the same in Scandinavian languages too, Ceri (larn). That’s why you hear “That’ll learn ya.” in Saxon dialects.

  • seburnt

    “I love the way words like that shine new and different after seeing their roots.”
    You do this for me, Brad.  <3

  • Marisa Pavan

    Hi Brad!

    What an interesting reflection! Both words intermingle as to teach implies learning a lot. 
    In reply to your question, I can say that I do my best to listen to my students as they speak their minds and foster interaction in the classroom.
    Hugs, Che Brad!

  • Language Garden

    Hi Ceri, where’s your course? Would love to join!

  • Language Garden

    Couldn’t agree more, Tyson. Lovely post, Brad. In Brummie English, and many other non-standard varieties, “that’ll learn ya” is the accepted form.

  • Dob95

    duct and dux – a base and a root? I don’t know how you’re defining a base, but duct clearly doesn’t directly supply the word education, otherwise it would be eduction. duct is a stem, and so is dux – of the past participle and the perfect respectively. Neither is a root. The root is duc.

    Elsewhere, I notice you describe yolk – the yellow bit of an egg – and yoga as cognates. I don’t think that’s quite what you mean. I should check the spelling, old boy.

  • Brad Patterson

    What I meant when I said “base” is the common element in all of the words coming from the Latin verb “ducere”, and latin noun “dux” (in English today it’s seen most often in “duct” words).  You’ve labeled those portions correctly with the term “stem”.  Thanks for the clarification.

    Education and all of the words in that wordle are indeed cognates of the Indo-European root, “duk”, education specifically coming from “educere” in latin— “to lead out”.   

    For yoga, the IE root is ieug and it is a cognate with yoke (not yolk… don’t know where you saw that on my blog)… interesting you mention it because it would be very easy to make that mistake— especially as “zygote” is a cognate of ‘ieug’ and has a similar meaning to yolk (and then yolk’s spelling/pronunciation is close to yoke too !)

    I’m not familiar with your use of the expression “old boy”.  What exactly do you mean ?  Hope I shouldn’t be offended ;-)    

  • Brad Patterson

    wow… look forward to november so we can have a chat about Welsh.  I know next to nothing, outside of the fact that dysgu means both learn and teach !

    Very very cool.  Merci 4 sharing ;-)

  • Brad Patterson

    it actually sneaks into some american “dialects” too in the same context—-  ”that’ll learn ya not to play with fire”… “I’m gonna learn ‘im to talk to me that way”  often a bit of agression involved.

    Cheers, b

  • Brad Patterson

    Thanks Tyson.  Honored ;-)  Doesn’t get much cooler than being able to share your passion with folks that enjoy it !   Cheers, b

  • Brad Patterson

    Brummie english… had to look it up ;-)   Merci Davide !

  • Brad Patterson

    Hey Marisa-

    Thanks for sharing.  I just saw a great TED video on listening.  I think you’ll love it !  Cheers, b

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