Nourishment at the Latin root

22nd August 1997 at 01:00
Anita Roddick is one of the "many people" confusing Latin verbs (TES, August 8). The following item by Jennifer Chew from the Reading Reform Foundation newsletter may help.

"Many people think that the English word 'education' comes from the Latin verb educere meaning 'to lead out', and that educating children therefore involves leading out or drawing out things that are already within them. The fact is that English words derived from educere have to end in "duction", not "ducation" - examples are introduction, production and seduction.

"'Education' is derived from the Latin educare - to bring up a child physically or mentally, or to nourish. The first classical example given in A Latin Dictionary (Lewis Short) nicely illustrates the difference between educere and educare: educit obstetrix, educat nutrix - "the obstetricianmidwife brings forth, the nurse brings up". When one looks up nutrix, one finds that the first meaning given is 'wet nurse'.

"The idea behind educare is therefore very much that of putting in something that was not there to start with, not drawing out something that was there all along."

MONA McNEE Reading Reform Foundation 2 Keats Avenue Whiston, Prescot Merseyside

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