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Does etymology make learning a new language easier?

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Etymology is the study of the origins of words. I've noticed that language classes that have more time to teach include this in their lessons. Those that have less time tend to skip it and just go directly to translating things. I think it makes studying a new language easier though. For me, knowing the origin of a word makes it easier to remember and much more interesting to learn. Do you feel the same way too or do you think it's a waste of time?

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Yes, common etymology makes things easier, but also confusing!

I am Romanian and when I moved to Italy I could comprehend 80% of the vocabulary used, yet I couldn't express myself with ease, and this is because about 80% of the Romanian language is of Latin origin as Italian is.However,when I became more confident in speaking I would use etymology a bit as a crutch and sometimes I glamourously failed.

Which brings us to the classic example of "false friends" which can indeed be quite hilarious, you can find some examples here http://www.alsintl.com/blog/false-friends-in-romance-languages/

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I have noticed the same thing in terms of learning a language and what teachers choose to use in their teaching, and I definitely tend to agree with you that etymology makes learning the language easier and a bit more interesting too, as it adds another "layer" to your understanding. I find it helpful, though as another person mentioned it can get a little confusing on occasion when it completely clashes with what you might have been expecting.

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Etymology does help in learning a new language easier. I remember in high school that we have lessons which require us to memorize Latin/Greek [i forgot the term - root word?] to help us easily understand certain English words. It helped us understand the word better, and also made us appreciate how existing English words were formed. Although in my mind, those whose interest in learning a language is purely to get by with conversations, then, they won't appreciate the value of etymology. It'd be more confusing for them as they'll be more interested in learning key expressions than word origins.

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I don't think it helps that much as if you're just beginning to learn a new language then chances are you are already taking in as much information as you can, and learning about etymology might just confuse you more. In my opinion, etymology is best learned when you already know a language. That way, you'd have much more appreciation of the words and how they are used as well as how they came about.

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I don't think it helps that much as if you're just beginning to learn a new language then chances are you are already taking in as much information as you can, and learning about etymology might just confuse you more. In my opinion, etymology is best learned when you already know a language. That way, you'd have much more appreciation of the words and how they are used as well as how they came about.

While I earlier said that etymology did help me learn easily, I also agree to the points mentioned by Baburra. New information can really either help you learn more or it paralyzes you. Learning etymology might just be TMI for a new language learner. In psychology, we call it information overload. So when you take in so many things all at once, there's tendency that you won't remember what you're studying.

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For a slightly different perspective, I've found that etymology hasn't been particularly helpful at all in learning Japanese. I guess to some extent, learning that most common Japanese words are either "native" Japanese words or Chinese loanwords (warning: some of these have been "on loan" for >1000 years and are hardly recognisable to modern Chinese speakers) has been useful, but in terms of the actual learning to speak Japanese, not very helpful.

Some people get a lot out of the history or origins of Kanji though.

On the other hand, I've had some success with using etymology to help with difficult-to-remember words in Swedish, so I really think it's a matter of the individual language and also how different it is from your own native language.

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I find that etymology helps if there's a really interesting story behind a certain word or idiom.

if it's just something like "the word was borrowed from language X in century Y", it doesn't make learning any easier.

But if there's some kind of funny, weird or mysterious story behind it - yes, I'll remember it much, much better.

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For me it does help.  It's kind of like in school (in the US) when they teach you the root word and then the conjugations.  It makes it easier for me to make an association with certain words, and I can actually figure some out using the etymology that I learn from other words. 

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I think it does help. It can be very interesting to see the evolution of a language. It might not function in all the languages but in the case of European languages it can explain why we have the languages we have now. Romance languages all have the same origin, Latin, but to see how they got to the various languages that we have now, is anything but boring.

 

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Etymology is the study of the origins of words. I've noticed that language classes that have more time to teach include this in their lessons. Those that have less time tend to skip it and just go directly to translating things. I think it makes studying a new language easier though. For me, knowing the origin of a word makes it easier to remember and much more interesting to learn. Do you feel the same way too or do you think it's a waste of time?

Etymology is definitely very valuable. For instance, it helped me a lot with my Chinese Studies.

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It is fun to discover something about a new term like how is it related to another word or where it actually originated. I personally love knowing about language or word origins and I also feel the same OP. It makes the experience interesting and fun for me. Sometimes I find some words which are related to my own native language isn't that nice to know? That can make me remember something even better.

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I've found it easier, personally. It helps to see the word in context, which means I can categorise and understand it better. Also, generally I remember more if there's more to remember.

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It definitely makes the language easier to learn, but the real question is whether or not it's worth the time and effort. After all, you could use that time and effort to learn more vocabulary instead. For me, learning the meaning of Chinese characters was well worth it, but learning greek and latin roots to learn Romantic/Germanic languages wasn't.

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