That’s a great question!
Some of the earliest English words derived from Latin, like butter, camp, devil, dish, mile and wine, came in pre-Christian times from trading with Romans. When Christian missionaries showed up in England around the 6th and 7th century, they brought new words with them like altar, candle, clerk, mass, monk and school.
When the French speaking Normans took over England in the 11th century, we borrowed loads of words from them like servant, story, religion, feast, appetite, tournament, honor, joy. For at least 33% of the words you say, the reason you say them is because of this invasion. Because French descends from Latin, technically these words also come from Latin.
It’s easy to forget, but until the end of the 18th century most books were written in Latin. Many educated people could read Latin and so instead of translating a word with a complex meaning like encyclopedia, they would just say the Latin word encyclopedia. Just like today, the more Latin words you use in your speech, the ‘fancier’ you sound.
Most of the Greek words we have actually came to us through Latin or French. So, long ago the Romans borrowed the word crocodile from Greek. French inherited it from Latin, and then English borrowed it from French. In the medical field, though, many of our words come directly from Greek, like asthma, psychosis and hydrophobic. Since some of the earliest medical texts we have are in Ancient Greek, there is an established connection between the Greek language and medicine.
Hope that helps! Sorry for the length!
Thanks for the question!
Despite their apparent similarities, they’re not actually related.
'Prodigal' ultimately comes from pro + ago "to drive forth". This formed a complex verb prodigo "to consume, to squander", which later formed the adjective prodigus "consumptive, squanderous" and rendered English ‘prodigal’.
'Prodigy' on the other hand, comes from Latin prodigium 'omen'. Though etymologically disputed, this likely comes from pro + aio "to speak forth, to predict (etymologically similar, pre + dico “to say”). So a prodigium 'omen', gives insight or 'predicts' the future, and that's exactly what English 'prodigy' originally meant. Presumably it got used for exceptional children because their fantastic skill as a youngster 'predicted' their future greatness.
Sidenote: The ‘d’ in both ‘prodigal’ and ‘prodigy’ is a false-friend, and is actually only there to aid pronunciation. It’s what’s called an excrescence, a form of epenthesis where a consonant is non-etymologically added to a word, like the ‘d’ in ‘thunder’ from Old English thunor (with no ‘d’).
Hope that helps! Sorry for the length!
What’s up with verbs like “put”, “let”, “have”? They don’t really do much as far as tense. Think of “I put on chapstick”. Are these ditransitive? I was thinking about “have” and how it requires an object of some sort, and how the meaning of the utterance with “have” is directed more towards that object. Like if English had an accusative case it would call for it. Do you know what I mean? What’s that called?
Just a note on the tense remark: “put” historically had the dental suffix for past tense (and Dutch keeps it; its past tense is pootte). The verb “let” is similar, it was a reduplicating preterite in Common Germanic (lelot), but in Old English the distinction between the present and past was only a vowel alteration, and a marginal one at that; present læte vs. past let. In my dialect at least (Southeastern USA), the only useful present form for these verbs is the present progressive, like “i’m putting it on the board” or “i’m letting you go”. The marginal past/present distinction these verbs once had has left them with no “true” present form. Pretty interesting observation!
Can someone answer this?
How is the IPA [ɡ̊] different from [k]? I thought that the only difference between [g] and [k] was voicing, so wouldn’t making a [g] voiceless just turn it into a [k]?
To be clearer, [k] is not entirely voiceless (at least in Germanic). It obviously has less voicing than the “voiced” [g], and that amount of voicing makes them distinct. Imagine a voice scale where 0 is purely voiceless and 10 is purely voiced. In actuality, English [k] ranks about 2 and [g] ranks about 8. The [ɡ̊] sound ranks somewhere between them, but closer to [g] so maybe a 6? In English, we don’t make a distinction between 6 and 8, but apparently some languages have the phonemes [k] (0-2 on the voice scale), [g] (8-10), and other consonants like [ɡ̊] (maybe 5-7?). I’m not a phonetician, so perhaps i’m totally off. This is how i’ve always understood this though, and if this is wrong, it’s still an interesting concept!