u3a - Etymology


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 My university studies back in the ‘70s (University of Venice) included those of philology that more broadly covered comparative linguistics. And that was also my introduction to etymology. I became acquainted with the work of David Crystal, and others, and still retain his two major Cambridge works, The English Language and the Encyclopedia of Language.

I’m an Italian national with a background in navigation, teaching and business. For a short while I taught English but mainly economic geography. The business experience (translation) spanned over three decades and introduced me, first hand, to the complex world of languages. When translating we say that you cannot translate word for word. That surely will take you nowhere. But words still retain the distinction of being the unique building blocks of languages themselves.

As a new U3A Maidstone member, back in 2017, I played with the idea of setting up an etymology group. I knew I could just make it, preparation is key, but just didn’t know what to expect in terms of response. Well, within days I had 13 respondents! All the rest is history. I was able to form two groups and then a third one. We’re now back to two groups due to changed circumstances. In my first Summer School in August 2019 I tutored an etymology appreciation course.

When it comes to words, there are no secrets. We’re are all language users! This for me explains the level of participation. Here I acknowledge in particular the active participation of the members of my two groups which I think has enriched us all. My views are that we’re all sold on the idea of sharing ‘learning experiences’.
We don’t sing and dance but apart from that we change the pace of the presentation in a variety of ways. We refer to books and dictionaries, and mainly use powerpoint slides. These now amount to 90 plus and many links to a number of online resources are also provided.

It all started with my Etymology Flyer and famous words, “Want to do Etymology then …”

Mario Molinari
Etymology Subject Adviser

The content of the files listed below has been used in our presentations:

1) Sample Slides 
2) People & Places
3) On learning
4) Windows have eyes (a poem, published in our "Coronavirus Newsletter Issue 9")