in , ,

Halloween, Spelling, and Structured Word Inquiry

Advertisement

Halloween, Spelling, and Structured Word Inquiry

Learn more about Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) by studying the spellings of some vocabulary words related to the Halloween holiday: Halloween, pumpkin, costume, zombie, cauldron, ghastly, enchant, skeleton, vampire, and candy.

Structured Word Inquiry

English spelling is rule-based. There are no exceptions, just more rules to uncover. I have yet to find a word whose spelling cannot be explained. Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) is a means by which to study spelling. One can use SWI to investigate spelling by asking four questions:

1.) What does a word mean?
2.) How is the word built?
3.) What are morphological and etymological relatives of the word?
4.) What are the sounds that matter? What are the letters doing?

Advertisement

The questions are to be investigated in order.

Halloween Vocabulary

Halloween

1.) Noun: a holiday celebrated on October 31

2.) complex word (a word that contains prefixes and/or suffixes)

Hallow + een -> Halloween

From 1781, also Hallow-e’enHallow e’en, a Scottish shortening of Allhallow-even “Eve of All Saints, last night of October”

“Halloween” is a poem written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1785 published in the Kilmarnock Edition in 1786.

Hallow: sacred, saint(ed), from the Old English adjective hālig, meaning “holy”

-een: “end of the day,” from Old English æfen, related to eve

3.)

Hallow + een + s -> Halloweens
Hallow + mas -> Hallowmas
Hallow + s -> hallows
Hallow + ed -> hallowed

4.) The <ll> and <ee> are digraphs, or two letters that spell one sound.

Halloween

Pumpkin

1.) Noun: a large rounded orange-yellow fruit with a thick rind, edible flesh, and many seeds

2.) simple word (one morpheme)

pumpkin

1640s, alteration of pomponepumpion “melon, pumpkin” (1540s), from Middle French pompon, from Latin peponem (nominative pepo) “melon,” from Greek pepon “melon,” probably originally “cooked (by the sun),” hence “ripe;” from peptein “to cook”

3.)

Pumpkin + s -> pumpkins
Pumpkin + Seed -> pumpkinseed
Pumpkin + Seed + s -> pumpkinseed

See Word Matrix: Pumpkin for more related words.

4.)

Pumpkin

Costume

1.) Noun: the distinctive style of dress of an individual or group

Verb: to dress in a particular set of clothes

2.) simple word (one morpheme)

Costume

from French costume (17c.), from Italian costume “fashion, habit,” from Latin consuetudinem (nominative consuetudo) “custom, habit, usage”

3.)

Costume + s -> costumes
Costume + ed -> costumed
Costume + ing -> costuming
Costume + er -> costumer
Costume + al -> costumal

Doublet: <custome>

from Old French costume “custom, habit, practice; clothes, dress”, from Vulgar Latin *consuetumen, from Latin consuetudinem (nominative consuetudo) “habit, usage, way, practice, tradition, familiarity,” from consuetus, past participle of consuescere “accustom,” from com-, + suescere “become used to, accustom oneself”

4.) The replaceable <e> marks the phonology of the <u>.

Costume

Zombie

1.) Noun: a corpse allegedly revived by witchcraft, especially in certain African and Caribbean religions

2.) simple word (one morpheme)

1871, of West African origin (compare Kikongo zumbi “fetish;” Kimbundu nzambi “god”), originally the name of a snake god, later with meaning “reanimated corpse” in voodoo cult; perhaps also from Louisiana creole word meaning “phantom, ghost,” from Spanish sombra “shade, ghost”

3.)

Zombie + s -> zombies
Zombie + like -> zombielike

4.) The <ie> is a digraph, or a grapheme that consists of two letters.

Zombie

Cauldron

1.) Noun: a large metal pot with a lid and handle, used for cooking over an open fire

2.) simple word (one morpheme)

1300, caudron, from Anglo-French caudrun, Old North French cauderon (Old French chauderon “cauldron, kettle”), from augmentative of Late Latin caldaria “cooking pot,” from Latin calidarium “hot bath,” from calidus “warm, hot”

The unetymological <l> was inserted during the 1400s in imitation of Latin.

3.)

Cauldron + s -> cauldrons

caldera, 1865, from Spanish caldera, literally “cauldron, kettle,” from Latin caldarium “hot-bath” (plural caldaria), from caldarius “pertaining to warming,” from calidus “warm, hot”

calid, 1590s, from Latin calidus “warm”

4.) The <au> is a digraph, or a grapheme that consists of two letters.

Cauldron

Ghastly

1.) Adjective: (1) causing great horror or fear; frightful, (2) extremely unwell

2.) complex word

Ghast + ly -> ghastly

from ghastly, from gastlich “inspiring fear or terror, hideous, shocking”

gast “afraid, frightened” + –lich “-ly”

from Old English gæstan “to torment, frighten”

If earlier gast was spelled with <g>, why is modern ghast spelled with <gh>?

The <gh> spelling developed in the 1500s on the model of ghost, which was influenced by Flemish and Middle Dutch gheest.

3.)

Ghast
Ghast + ly + er -> ghastlier
Ghast + ly + est -> ghastliest

4.) The <gh> is a digraph, or a grapheme that consists of two letters.

Ghastly

Enchant

1.) Verb: (1) to practice sorcery or witchcraft on, (2) to delight in a high degree, charm, fascinate

2.) complex word

en + Chant -> enchant

from Old French enchanter “bewitch, charm, cast a spell,” from Latin incantare “to enchant, fix a spell upon,” from in- “upon, into” + cantare “to sing”

perhaps a backformation of enchantment, from Old French encantement “magical spell; song, concert, chorus,” from enchanter “bewitch, charm,” from Latin incantare “enchant, cast a (magic) spell upon,” from in– “upon, into” + cantare “to sing”

en-: upon, into (encircle, enclose)

Chant: sing, song

3.)

Chant
Chant + s -> chants
Chant + ed -> chanted
Chant + ing -> chanting
en + Chant + ment -> enchantment
en + Chant -> enchant
en + Chant + s -> enchants
en + Chant + ed -> enchanted
en + Chant + ing -> enchanting
en + Chant + (e)r -> enchanter
en + Chant + (e)r + ess -> enchantress

4.)

Enchant

Skeleton

1.) Noun: (1) an internal or external framework of bone, cartilage, or other rigid material supporting or containing the body of an animal or plant, (2) the supporting framework, basic structure, or essential part of something

2.) complex word

Skelete + on -> skeleton

1570s, from Modern Latin sceleton “bones, bony framework of the body,” from Greek skeleton soma “dried-up body, mummy, skeleton,” from neuter of skeletos “dried-up,” from skellein “dry up, make dry, parch”

3.)

Skelete + on + s -> skeletons
Skelete + al -> skeletal
Skelete + al + ly  -> skeletally
endo + Skelete + on -> endoskeleton
exo + Skelete + on -> exoskeleton

4.)

Skeleton

Vampire

1.) Noun: a creature from folklore that subsists by feeding on the vital essence of the living

2.) Simple word (one morpheme)

1734, from French vampire or German Vampir (1732, in an account of Hungarian vampires), from Hungarian vampir, from Old Church Slavonic opiri

3.)

Vampire + s -> vampires
Vampire + ic -> vampiric
Vampire + ism -> vampirism
Vampire + ish -> vampirish

4.) The <e> marks the phonology of the <i>.

Vampire

Candy

1.) Noun: (1) a sweet food made with sugar or syrup combined with fruit, chocolate, or nuts, (2) sugar crystallized by repeated boiling and slow evaporation

2.) simple word (one morpheme)

from Middle English sugre candy “crystallized sugar,” from Old French çucre candi “sugar candy,” ultimately from Arabic qandi, from Persian qand “cane sugar,” probably from Sanskrit khanda “piece (of sugar)”

3.)

Candy + es -> candies
Candy + ed -> candied
Candy + ing -> candying

4.)

Candy

Image Credits

Halloween, Spelling, and Structured Word Inquiry: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jack-o-lantern-FR.JPG and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jack-O%27-Lantern_Trio_(8256114315).jpg

Halloween, Spelling, and Structured Word Inquiry

Advertisement

Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, children, dogs, and cats. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in creative writing and master's degrees in library and information science and English studies with a concentration in linguistics.

Buttercup Squash Soup Recipe

Buttercup Squash Soup Recipe

Autumn, Spelling, and Structured Word Inquiry

Autumn, Spelling, and Structured Word Inquiry