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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872. by
E. H. BUTLER & CO.,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
WESTCOTT & THOMSON,
SHERMAN & Co.,
WE here offer to the schools of the United States the first systematic attempt to associate the study of etymology with exercises in reading. The fitness of this association will not be questioned by those who admit that in order to read well we ought to understand what we read. As to the importance of the study of etymology all are agreed. It is not denied that many studies now pursued in our public schools might be profitably superseded by this, for we cannot have a proper knowledge of our own language until we know the simple roots of many of our imported words. With our Anglo-Saxon derivatives we have little difficulty, for their simple roots are our familiar mother-tongue; but when we consider that some fifteen thousand English words in frequent use are compounded from the Latin and Greek, we must recognize the importance of making their roots a study in our English schools.
"Why has not this been done long since ?” it may be asked. The reason is that etymology, by itself and abstracted from the forms of speech it vivifies and illumines, is a dry study to beginners; and in saying this we mean no disparagement to the etymological manuals in use. And yet, unless pupils have had some instruction in etymology or in Latin and Greek, nearly a third of the words they encounter in reading English lose a good part of their significance; while even to Latin and Greek scholars some instruction in etymology is important in calling their attention to the genealogy of English words, and thus making their knowledge available in teaching the right use of those words.
Look at such common Anglo-Latin words as circumstance, soliloquy, exorbitant, indolence, or such Anglo-Greek words as philosopher, photograph, telegraph, Philadelphia, and what blind words they are without the etymological key that unlocks their true meaning and shows their reason for being!
While a good deal of time is lavished on less important studies, is there not a species of unfairness in withholding from the children of our public schools the light which etymology thus sheds on the words they are using? It need not be withheld, for it can be made to impart a new zest to the reading lesson, and to supply at the same time such a knowledge of Latin and Greek words as is essential to an accurate knowledge of English.