Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Words of the World - The Origins of Words

Words of the World is another great series of videos from the University of Nottingham (they also brought us the Periodic Table of Videos and Foodskey - The Science of Food). Words of the World is a collection of videos featuring historians and linguists explaining the origins of and history of the use of words in the English language. The videos attempt to put the words into a somewhat modern context. For example this video about the word guerrilla makes reference to Che Guevara. The sample I've embedded below explains the history of the word California.

Applications for Education
Words of the World could be an instructive model for your own lesson combining history and language arts. Have your students pick a word or two that they think is common and research it. Then have them create their own short videos in which they explain the history of those words. You might even have them research the dialect of the areas in which they live. For example, where I live we have Streaked Mountain. Most people would pronounce that as streaked yet everyone around here pronounces it as streak - ed. I'm not sure why that is the case, but I would love to find out.