English professor explains origins and formations of words

Students on campus were able to get a taste of one of the classes offered by professor of English, Dr. Norman German in his lecture “Word Power,” which is a course dedicated to vocabulary and etymology and emphasizes the benefits of understanding word origins.

“If you know the etymology of one word, it would lead you to a better understanding of other words,” said German.

German presented his lecture to students on Wednesday, Feb. 16 in D Vickers Hall, Room 383. In his lecture, German explained that students could have a greater insight into words if they know their etymologies. German touched on topics such as explaining false slitting, a form of folk etymology. According to German, false slitting is false etymology, or something that has taken on a new but incorrect meaning. For example, the word apple was originally spelled as napple, but has been split to form “an apple.” The same is true for a snake called an adder, which was formerly a nadder.

The word escape was initially spelled and pronounced excape. Knowing the etymology of the parts of this word, one could exit their cape, or modern day coat, when grabbed and get away freely.

Students present at the lecture took an interest in how words have changed over time.

“[It’s] interesting to see where the roots of words are derived from and their history,” said Joshua Barnhill, a business administration sophomore.

Along with the lecture, German gave a brief overview of what can be found in his novel, “The Word on Words: The Play of Language.”

“The idea in the book is that it’s easier to acquire vocabulary if you know the etymology of the word,” said German. This is the latest of six novels that he has written, of which four are currently published.

Up next for German will be his reading from his novel, “Switch-Pitchers,” at LSU-Eunice next week. The novel is set in Louisiana and follows Hemingway as he smuggles twin Cuban pitchers to the U.S. for a shot at major league fame.

Those interested in future lectures and public readings can seek more information in the Writing Center located in D Vickers, Room 383 or through the calendar of events on their Web site.