Tuesday, September 23, 2008

#4: gnosco: gignoskein and gnosis

Greetings, those of you who are in the know! Today I will continue the 4th edition of subsidiary roots that come from the Latin root word gnosco, gnoscere, gnovi, gnotum: to get to know, find out. To look at this full root word tree, take a look at this Greek and Latin roots site, or check out this word tree on a Greek and Latin roots poster. The Greek root words are the following:

Gignoskein: to know, think, judge {gnost}
Gnosis: knowledge, inquiry {gnos}

These word roots are highly interchangeable. A diagnostic in medicine is used to gain knowledge of a particular ailment; a diagnostic can also be run on an automobile's engine. A technician or a physician is trying to diagnose an ailment in this way so that she can provide a suitable diagnosis, or thorough "knowledge" of the matter, usually entitled an expert opinion. Not all diseases or car dysfunctions, however, are diagnosable; they simply go beyond the "knowledge" and thus "inquiry" of applied technologies. Perhaps the patient could then seek a more informed diagnostician, one who could better "judge" or more accurately "think" about the perplexing matter at hand.
When it comes to spiritual "knowledge," a Gnostic, or adherent to Gnosticism, believes himself to be in the "know" when it came to joined elements of Platonism with Christianity. Gnostics believed in a diametrically opposed Universe, where reigned the good spiritual world in direct contradistinction to the evil material world; a savior had come to disabuse us all of the evil nature of materialism, and reassured us of the ascendancy of the good, spiritual, true nature of humankind. The gnostic adherent would be eventually released from the clutches of the evil material Universe, whereas the non-gnostic would be doomed to eternal metempsychosis, or rounds upon rounds of successive reincarnation. Agnostic, on the other hand, do not claim to be in the "know" at all, but rather "believe" that the divine is beyond the rational faculties of the human mind, although they concede that there could be such ineffable entities--we'll just never know about them. Kant, perhaps the greatest of all the German philosophers, touted such Metaphysical Agnosticism, the linchpin of the great Critique of Pure Reason, published in 1781, most certainly a book that a bibliognost would have knowledge of, but perhaps not have read, since even the contemporaries of Kant claimed that the great work would, if read in its entirety, have caused them to go insane.
To return to the saga of Billy and Morgan, any prognostications, or guesses to "knowledge," as to what will happen next in their new and budding relationship? Will Billy try to impress her again with his knowledge, perhaps prognosticating something seemingly impossible to know so as to impress her? Will he offer her a prognosis, perhaps, of a terrible disease that his grandmother has, predicting her ultimate demise? Or perchance, in a milder vein, he will simple predict the weather or the fluctuations of the stock market to her shocked surprise? Find out in the next installment of the whirling williwaws of their incunabulary path joinings.
To discover English vocabulary words at their riches, visit http://www.wordempire.com/ , where you will not only find a plethora (but can you really ever have too many?) of Greek and Latin roots, but also Greek and Latin root words trees that give rise to multiplicitous English vocabulary words.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

# 3 of gnosco: ignoro: to not know and nobilis: known, well known

Greetings, those of you who are in the know! Today I will continue the 3rd edition of subsidiary roots that come from the Latin verb gnosco, gnoscere, gnovi, gnotum: to get to know, find out. To look at this root, take a looks at this Greek and Latin roots site, and then choose the correct word tree, or check out this word tree on a Greek and Latin roots poster. The following two Latin roots form a surprising number of words; nor is it surprising to find out or get to know that the second of these word roots form many more words than the first--and you'll see clearly why soon. The root words are the following:

Ignoro, ignorare, ignoravi, ignoratum—to not know

Nobilis—known, well known, famous, noble {nobl}

It is easy to see why these come from a verb meaning "to get to know, to find out." To be knowledgeable about the first root, ignoro, is to bypass ignorance itself, that is, the "not knowing" of something. If one ignores an unpleasant situation, one probably "knows" at least something about it (at least enough to know that it is something worth avoiding); one is pretending "not to know" about it, and hence treats the subject as either something "not (worth) knowing" about, or forcibly encourages oneself to remain "not knowing" about it, to the point where one becomes a volotional or willing ignoramus, that is, one who does "not know" anything about either a particular subject, or, indeed, many subjects (the opposite of which would be a polymath or Renaissance person, one who knows much about many things).
On the opposite pole, one can hardly remain ignorant of the nobility, those whom are etymologically "well known" or "famous," usually for having a great deal of aristocratic influence (by the bye, an "aristocracy" is "rule by the best:" note the underlying bias towards those in power; many would argue that most aristocracies are in actuality kakistocracies, or rule by the worst!). Hence, if one is noble, one should become "known" for good character, a character that supposedly underlay the noblewoman or nobleman (oftentimes rife with nobiliary particles, such as von and de, as in Chretien de Troyes and Cyrano de Bergerac and the von Trapp family, used to indicate noble rank); nobles had the charge of noblesse oblige placed upon them, the idea that those of high birth and powerful social position (that is, those "well known" to all the lowly because of their power and influence) were to act chivalrously towards the less fortunate, etc., that is, to act with honor, kindliness, generosity, etc. Oftentimes, however, this was definitely NOT the case (ask any medieval serf you know, and I'll bet she'd have a few good stories of oppression for you: kindly errare humanum est, truthfully absolute power corrupts absolutely). In politics a noble lie is a myth or untruth knowingly told by the nobles to maintain social harmony, particularly the social position said nobles. The noble lie, by the bye, was orginated by that great originator of ideas, Plato.
Since the nobles often did not live up to their noblesse oblige and so had to create the noble lie to maintain their thin reputations (at least in name), Romantic poets concocted the noble savage, or natural man, who was not corrupted at all by civilization or its Mammonic derivative money, but retained a kind of primitive, innate Goodness (the Platonic Idea of Good being all that is not evil, or at least some pertaining not to civilized human nobleness) with which native, unsullied instinct he acted nobly in all encounters with his fellow man, putting to shame all the nefarious acts of those nobles who acted so, well, ignobly. Lesser because civilized man would then, highly romantically, want to become ennobled by following and emulating the noble savage; this may have been the impetus, in its modern form, of the hippie (my very large cousin to the core). This golden primitivism, espoused by such authors as Milton, Montaigne, Rousseau, and Chateaubriand, attempted to glorify the ennobled man in his protypal state, bereft of and beyond the evil empires of those most dangerous English vocabulary words: capitalism, materialism, industrialism, and Elioticism. Later on chemists joined the game as well, creating the "noble gas," which by and large does not intermingle and thus stain itself with other elements (i.e. is practially inert), and the "noble metal," which is also resistant to oxidation and therefore corrosion and rust.
I'll leave it up to you to determine whether or not Shakespeare's and Fletcher's The Two Noble Kinsmen in the guise of Palamon and Arcite (from Chaucer's Knight's Tale) were of the civilized nobility, or of the noble savage ilk.
For more word origins from Greek and Latin root words, take a gander at www.wordempire.com, the site that not only posts word lists of English vocabulary words, but also makes beautiful word trees of what is one of the most effective tools we humans possess, and one of the most intricate...and noble.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

# 2 of gnosco: cognoso, cognoscere, cognovi, cognitum: to learn, know

For future discussions of the incredible range of English vocabulary words that come from Greek and Latin root words, I will list the stems of the language in sky blue, beginning with the ff.:

Cognosco, cognoscere, cognovi, cognitum—to learn, know {conn, quaint}.

For a fascinating discussion of the stems (main root words) and morphemes (main root words, affixes, and infixes) of English vocabulary words, please access my Introduction to Classical Word Origin.

When Billy recognized Morgan after not seeing her for many years, he ‘got to know’ her ‘again’. After this recognition had occurred, he really wanted to reacquaint himself with her bubbling effervescent personality (note the funny spelling change of this Latin root from "cognit" to "quaint:" Old French is the culprit; French has certainly added a great deal of color to our language, and for a large part keeps the Scripps National Spelling Bee in business) so he decided to invite her on a date to a quaint (the adjective "quaint" can mean ‘cunningly made’ by someone who has ‘learned’ a skill, but has also evolved into meaning ‘strange’ and ‘odd’ in an old-fashioned sort of way) French restaurant so as to make the soiree a highly memorable rendezvous.
Billy must have possessed some sort of oracular precognition, or foreknowledge, because Morgan had, over the years, become quite the cognoscente of French cuisine, "having learned" all the ins and outs of haute cuisine. Billy, certainly no connoisseur whatsoever of food, knowing" little of its art, therefor decided to reconnoiter the restaurant to "learn" a little about it beforehand in order to impress his hoped-for new beloved, so he went, incognito, to the place itself, pretending to be one of those magazine food tasters that would later report on the sumptuousness, or lack thereof, of the food. Displaying a tad bit of cognitive dissonance in his new role, he ordered biftec, and pronounced it a veritable miracle (grass fed, hugged, kissed, and all). Raving about his successful reconnaissance mission in which he "learned" everything he needed to "know," he felt fully prepared for his restaurant revel, ready to drop linguistic tidbits upon the lift of the fork, until he discovered, later on the next evening, that Morgan had gone incognita as well and was going for none of his obsequious culinary cognition (and who herself was a vegetarian).
To further one's own cognitive skills (with what else can one think and learn except via words?), visit the home of Greek and Latin roots, where you will discover a host of Greek and Latin root words and their pullulating (teeming) attendant and devoted English derivatives, most of the English vocabulary words you will ever need or probably want to acquaint yourself with.
Written by Brett Brunner of www.wordempire.com
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

#1: Gnosco, gnoscere, gnovi, gnotum: get to know, find out

One of the highly prolific Latin roots which is a superb source of English vocabulary words is gnosco, which has a plenitude of subsidiary words which are based upon it, which I will fully discuss in upcoming blogs--for now, to take a look at this complex and fascinating verb, take a look at it at this Greek and Latin root words site, at which you can also view a beautiful Greek and Latin roots poster. The fourth principal part of the verb, gnotum, gives us the word "notice;" when one is given a notice, one "gets to know" or "finds out" about an important piece of information. If one has a "notion" of something, one has "gotten to know" or "found out" something about it. To "notify" someone is to "make them find out" about something; one usually gives them a "notice" or a "notification." People who are highly "noticeable" are ones who stand out in a crowd so that everyone can easily "get to know" them, whereas the more reserved among us might be completely "unnoticeable" in the milling crowd of hoi polloi. On a finer point of semantics, if one is famous (from the Latin root fama: rumor, report, or reputation), or has a good report or reputation, that is a good thing; its opposite is usually "infamous," or one who does not have a good story or rumor about them--in other words, they are "notorious" for something they have done which is not particularly morally upstanding, such as Black Bart, who was infamous or notorious for robbing the Wells Fargo stage coach on a regular basis, to the point where Wells Fargo actually decided to offer him a regular pay stipend not to do so! Imagine his "notoriety" as word of his hire leaked out! A last interesting derivative for this mother of many similar Greek and Latin roots is the word "notional," which has come today to mean that one only has "gotten to know" something to such a small extent that it remains speculative or hypothetical, in other words, one still needs to "find out" a lot more before one can talk about it with any certainty.
The next Greek and Latin roots blog will cover one of the large Latin roots that is an offshoot of "gnosco, gnoscere, gnovi, gnotum," the verb "cognosco," which gives rise to many English vocabulary words that a "cognoscente" would certainly "recognize." Check out this root and 1172 others at http://www.wordempire.com/ , the site that shows unequivocally the power that Latin and Greek root words have in attaining a vast English vocabulary,