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 , the site that shows unequivocally the power that Latin and Greek root words have in attaining a vast English vocabulary,