Important Words to Know: Spelling Review Study Guide (page 2)
Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:
A large percentage of English roots come from Latin. Latin forms the basis of many of the languages spoken in the Americas and Europe, a group of languages that is collectively known as the Romance languages. The Romance languages include Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian, and Catalan, a language spoken in a small European country called Andorra and parts of Spain and Italy. Although many of our words are derived from Latin, English is officially considered a Germanic language because of its grammatical structure. Still, if you've ever taken Spanish, French, or Italian, you know that Romance and Germanic languages share a lot of similarities.
Most people stopped speaking Latin regularly around the 1600s. It is still studied by many scholars and spoken in select circles—members of the Catholic Church, for instance, often use Latin in ceremonies and readings—but it is not the primary means of communication for any country or group of people on earth. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as a "dead" language.
By contrast, English is very much alive. In 2007 alone, more than 100 new words and phrases were added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate dictionary, including smackdown (the act of bringing down an opponent) and ginormous (ridiculously huge). In this chapter, we'll be taking a look at words that have come into English from a variety of sources, including foreign words, old words that are being used in new ways, and brand-new words that are just joining the language.
Although all English words were originally derived from other sources, certain words have been adopted into the English language directly from other languages without any changes. Often, we have taken these words because there are no English words that carry the same meaning. Other foreign words are used in writing about history or politics. Twenty commonly used foreign words and terms are defined below.
aficionado n. a person who likes, knows about, and is devoted to a particular activity or thing. Jonelle has been a baseball aficionado ever since she went to her first game with her dad.
amigo n. friend. My amigo Carl goes to school on the other side of town.
blasé adj. boring as a result of overexposure. This movie seemed exciting at first, but it became blasé after the third car chase.
bravo int. great job. Bravo! Well done!
bourgeois adj. showing excessive concern for materialistic goods. Pete's bourgeois values leave him always wanting more.
cliché n. a phrase or saying that has been overused and, as a result, has little significance. The lyrics to this song are full of meaningless clichés.
connoisseur n. one who knows a lot about a certain subject. Fernando is a connoisseur of cheese.
coup de grâce n. the final triumph. The Pistons' final coup de grâce was a game-ending fourth-quarter dunk.
debut n. a first appearance. The tennis player was nervous about her professional debut.
déjà vu n. the feeling that one has been in a situation before. I had a sensation of déjà vu when I saw my younger sister wearing my old jacket.
facade n. a false front. I thought John had gotten over his dog's death, but I learned later his happy face was just a facade.
incognito adj. or adv. with one's identity concealed. The singer didn't want to be recognized at the restaurant so she went incognito.
laissez-faire n. a policy opposing government control of economic matters except in the case of maintaining peace and the concept of property. He believed in a laissez-faire system in which he was free to spend his money on anything he wanted.
malaise n. a feeling of mental unease or discomfort. There was a general malaise at the school after our baseball team lost the playoffs.
naïve adj. innocent, simple, lacking knowledge of the world. I told him he was naïve to think that he could pass the test without studying.
non sequitur n. a statement that has no connection to the previous statement or idea. The politician started out talking about the homeless problem, then launched into a non sequitur about his vacation in Alaska.
passé adj. out of fashion. Tight jeans are so passé this year.
rendezvous n. meeting or v. to meet. We decided to rendezvous at the swing set during lunch.
spiel n. talk given for the purpose of luring an audience or selling a product. The salesman's spiel made the vacuum cleaner seem more impressive than it really was.
vendetta n. a grudge or feud characterized by acts of retaliation. The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic adventure story about a falsely imprisoned man who carries out a vendetta against his captors.
FUEL FOR THOUGHT
BY THE YEAR 2050, it is estimated that 30% of the United States population will be descended from families with roots in Spanish-speaking countries. For people who study languages, the rise of the Hispanic and Latino populations offers a unique opportunity to explore what happens when two different languages come together. In many communities around the country, a mixture of Spanish and English known as Spanglish is becoming increasingly common.
Spanglish is not recognized as an official language in the way that Spanish and English are. It is a combination of Spanish and English by people who speak both languages fluently and are able to switch between them effortlessly. A typical Spanglish sentence might begin in English, switch to Spanish in the middle, and end back in English. It is often spoken by second-generation immigrants (the children of people who moved to the United States from Spanish-speaking countries) who are used to speaking one language at home and another language at school.
No one knows whether Spanglish will develop into its own language or if it will fade away in future generations. Although it may not exist in the same form as it does today, there is no doubt that the combination of English and Spanish will continue to have an important effect on the language we speak.
Literary words are words that are useful when discussing or analyzing a piece of literature such as a novel, short story, or poem. Some of these words are only applicable to literature; others can also be used to describe real-world situations.
anecdote n. a short account of an interesting or humorous incident. Our teacher told us a comical anecdote about her college days.
archetype n. an original model or type after which other similar things are patterned. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is the archetype of the tragic love story.
climax n. the crucial moment in a story. The criminal was caught at the climax of the story.
sexposition n. the part of the story that sets up the plot. Important details about the story were revealed during the exposition.
figurative adj. not literal. Writers often use figurative language when writing about nature.
hyperbole n. intentional exaggeration. It is hyperbole to say that you are dying of thirst when you're just a little thirsty.
interpret v. to explain the meaning of. I don't know how to interpret the doctor's writing.
irony n. the use of words to express something different from the literal meaning. The irony of his nickname, "Tiny," became obvious when I discovered he was seven-feet tall.
literal adj. the actual meaning. The literal translation of his name means "king."
personification n. the act of giving an inanimate object or animal humanlike properties. Calling the sea "angry" is an example of personification.
plot n. the course of events in a story. The plot of this story is exciting and action-packed.
protagonist n. the main character in a story. The protagonist of the story is a young wizard named Harry.
pun n. play on words. The title of the vampire movie Love at First Bite was a pun on the saying "love at first sight."
rhetoric n. style of speaking. I decided to vote for the politician when I heard his fiery and convincing rhetoric.
satire n. a literary style in which important topics are made to look ridiculous through the use of humor. The movie Network is a classic satire on media.
setting n. the environment or location in which a story takes place. The setting of Catcher in the Rye is New York City.
stanza n. a group of lines in a poem. This poem is composed of three stanzas.
summarize v. to highlight the most important details. Our teacher asked us to summarize our summer vacations.
theme n. the main idea of a story. The theme of this book is "never give up."
tone n. the feeling of a story. This scene of the play has a foreboding tone.
Business words are words that relate to work or finances. You may see these words used in newspapers and magazine articles. Although they may not mean much to you right now, someday you will probably use most of these words on a regular basis.
balance n. the difference between money available and money owed. After I pay for my new shoes, the balance on my account will be $500.
bankrupt n. the legal state of being unable to pay ones debts. Mr. Temple's company went bankrupt when demand for their product died out.
benefits n. anything offered by an employer in addition to salary, including health insurance, vacation days, and sick days. My job doesn't pay very well but the benefits are excellent.
corporation n. a company that is legally treated as an individual. Wal-Mart is one of the most successful corporations in the world.
credit n. money due to a person or business. I have a credit of $25 at the bookstore that I can spend on whatever I would like.
debt n. money owed by a person or business. My debt is low because I always pay with cash.
department n. a smaller division within a company. The accounting department handles all of our financial transactions.
employer n. business or individual for whom an employee works. My employer has a great health insurance plan.
fiscal adj. financial. My dad loves to talk about fiscal responsibility.
implement v. to put into effect. The company decided to implement some changes to its e-mail policy.
insurance n. a coverage plan in which an individual pays a regular fee in exchange for future services. According to our health insurance plan, we are allowed two dentist visits every year.
incur v. to come into or acquire, usually undesirably. We have incurred a large number of debts.
interview n. a formal meeting set up between an employer and employee when attempting to be hired for a job. I have an interview with the cement factory on Monday.
jargon n. the specialized vocabulary of an industry or group. Once I learned all the jargon, my job as a computer engineer became much easier.
policy n. a course of action; a rule. Our policy is to treat everyone equally.
procedure n. a way of doing something. The procedure is to always wash your hands before cooking food.
product n. a thing being produced or manufactured. The company's new product is expected to sell well.
references n. a group of people presented by a potential employee to an employer who can report on the potential employee's strengths and weaknesses. I have great references from my years spent working for the Parks Department.
résumé n. a printed overview of one's previous job experience. As Omar´s résumé shows, he has a long history of working with web-based companies.
salary n. the amount a job pays, usually figured as an annual amount. My annual salary is $45,000.
YOU MAY HAVE noticed that some of the letters in the business and foreign words have odd little symbols attached to them. These are called accents, and some languages use them to show how certain letters are pronounced. In French, for instance, an e with an accent aigu (é) is pronounced with a long a sound. Be careful when spelling these words; most words with accents are considered to be spelled incorrectly if you leave their accent marks off, even though we don't normally use these marks in our language.
The interesting thing about technology terms is that the definition of technology itself is constantly changing. Technically (no pun intended), technology refers to any sort of man-made machine. A wheelbarrow, for example, is a form of technology. However, if someone tells you they're really into technology, it's a pretty good guess that they don't mean they're really into wheelbarrows. More often than not, technology refers to modern electronics and computer terms. Here, then, are 20 computer and electronics terms that are useful in the modern world.
application n. a software program that lets you complete a task on your computer, such as word processing, listening to music, or viewing a web page. The computer application I use for making spreadsheets has many other uses.
bandwidth n. the capacity for sending information through an Internet connection. I have a lot of bandwidth at work, which makes it easy to download large files.
browser n. the program that enables users to look at files on the Web. My favorite browser is Firefox.
cursor n. a symbol, usually a blinking line or arrow, that shows the location of an input device on the screen. Point your cursor at the button reading submit and click the left mouse button.
database n. an organizational system using tables that helps a computer quickly retrieve pieces of information. The names of all the DVDs this store offers are collected in a database.
digital adj. the description of any electronic device that uses numbers to calculate information. This digital thermometer beeps when your temperature has been attained.
download v. the process of copying files from an outside source to your computer or network location. My favorite band is offering a deal where fans can download their latest song.
gigabyte or gig n. a measure of storage capacity equal to one billion bytes; currently the predominant measure of hard drive space. Benton bought a new computer with a 750-gig hard drive.
hard drive n. the part of a computer on which information is stored. I had to buy a new hard drive because I couldn't get access to any of my files.
input v. the process of entering information into a computer. After you input the requested information, the computer will give you your new password.
keyword n. a word connected to a larger concept used to simplify web searches. If you want to find information about the Civil War, type the keywords U.S. and Civil War into a search engine.
login n. the process of identifying oneself to a computer or network location, usually by entering a username and password. Here is your new login information; keep it in a safe place.
mouse (mows) n. a sliding input device with one or two buttons used to operate a cursor on a computer screen. With my wireless mouse, I can surf the Web from across the room.
network n. a group of two or more computers linked together. More than 200 computers are connected by the school network.
online adj. connected to a computer or network. Online shopping now accounts for the majority of all money spent in the United States.
search engine n. a program that searches documents, websites, and databases by keywords and returns a list of related information. Yahoo! used to be the leading search engine, until it was overtaken by Google.
spreadsheet n. a bookkeeping program that displays data in rows and columns, or any individual document created by that program. I have the names of all of my CDs arranged on a spreadsheet.
text v. to send a message by text message, usually on a cell phone. Text me the time the movie starts and I'll meet you there.
upload v. the process of copying to from an outside source from your computer or network location. When you're done with your test, upload your answers to the server to see the results.
username n. a nickname used to log on to a computer, website, or network location. The username I use to get onto my family's computer is "nexxus."
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