Sixth Form STEP talk unravels the history of the English language

Sixth Form STEP talk unravels the history of the English language

Etymology was the word under scrutiny today, in the second of a fascinating series of STEP (Share, Teach, Empower, Progress) presentations to Year 9s, delivered by Sixth Form students.

Victoria G., academic prefect and brainchild behind the concept of STEP, explained the meaning of etymology before giving some fascinating examples of words in the English language whose origins are firmly rooted in Latin, Greek and Old French. She explained that by knowing a word's origins and its context, you can work out its meaning. Some words are obvious, such as pandemonium (pan and demon), while others are a little trickier.

The Year 9 audience were challenged with describing the meaning of the word "sincere", given that it is derived from the Latin for "without wax". A discussion about Roman marble sculptures being repaired with wax, rendering them impure or less than perfect, led to the understanding that being sincere, or waxless, means genuine.

"Salary" was another interesting one for Year 9 to unravel, from its origins in the Latin "salarium" or "salt money", with Roman soldiers and workers being paid in salt.

Victoria says she was inspired by her older brother talking enthusiastically about the speakers he had heard at his college, and realised that, while in St Mary's Sixth Form, she could help enthuse her fellow students, both to present their own topics, and to learn from each other. 

Future topics will include coral reefs, institutional racism, and why the original fairy-tale stories are so dark.