Give Me A Break

Today, in my Second Language Acquisition class, my professor talked about morphology (the study of the smallest meaningful unit in language: morphemes). He wrote “antidisestablishmentarianism”. This word has a total of 28 letters and 6 morphemes, i.e. six separate clusters of letters that have meaning in the English language. We start with the root: Establish. From there on, it breaks down to the semantics of “opposition to the withdrawal of state support or recognition from an established church” (especially in reference to the Anglican Church in 19th-century England).

But, please! Give me a break. it is much easier to say “separation of state and church may be beneficial”…terms that may be better understood by a larger group of individuals.

By the way, according to several academic sites, the longest word in any of the major English language dictionaries is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. This word refers to a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano. It has 45 letters.

Imagine getting this word on a spelling bee….


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tlc4women
    Sep 10, 2008 @ 09:06:58

    I’ve always hated English and language classes because of these things. To me they are a waste of time. How am going to ever practically apply this to my daily living? Give me a math class any day!


  2. Simply Me
    Sep 10, 2008 @ 11:21:23

    I on the other hand, think I would enjoy such a class like this!


  3. kingsview
    Sep 10, 2008 @ 15:24:39

    Well, I’m trying to find a way to apply this borish lesson to my everyday life….There are things in life that we cannot figure out because they seem to be out of our league or we just can’t understand them. However, if we figure out the “root” of the situation, it is likely that we may figure out the solution. Such was the case with the above loooooong word. Once we figured out that the root word was Establish, the rest was just a matter of time and patience.


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