23rd September 2005 at 01:00
KS2. Students could look in dictionaries for words with origins in civilisations they have studied in history. English is full of words with Greek, Roman, Saxon, Norse, French and other origins.

KS 34. Students might tackle a similar exercise as part of their studies of the expansion of trade and empire - words such as pukka, palaver and veranda.

Look at the process of the standardisation of language and other aspects of life - eg a visit to the local archives can show how words in early 19th-century newspapers were often not standardised but 100 years later they generally are.

All students enjoy spending a little time looking at the origins of present-day words and phrases. Go to www.businessballs.comclichesorigins.htm or the slightly less serious www.rootsweb.comgenepoolsayings.htm

Students can compare the representation of Dr Johnson in this article with the main character in the Blackadder comedies. Visit the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum at www.lichfield.gov.uksjmuseum Consider how language and definitions might have been controlled in societies such as Nazi Germany or Stalin's USSR. Suggest a few words and terms and consider how these might have been defined in conditions of fear and censorship.

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