Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Department ofClassics and Ancient
Mediterranean Studies

CAMS 50: Classical Sources of English Vocabulary

CAMS 50: Classical Sources of English Vocabulary

CAMS 50 Words: Classical Sources of English Vocabulary (3) (GH)(BA) offers an introduction to the history, structure, and meaning of modern English words that are formed from Latin and Greek elements. Many English language users are unacquainted with Latin and Greek or unaware that these languages are the etymological sources for at least 60 percent of English vocabulary. Consequently, it is common for students to have difficulty understanding or implementing English words derived from Latin and Greek. CAMS 50 leads students through a program that helps them to learn and analyze the form and meaning of the Latin and Greek roots and affixes that occur most frequently in English vocabulary. Class lectures, textbook readings, workbook exercises, and various kinds of classwork show students how to research and explain the etymologies of English words and in particular how to use dictionaries and the explanatory methods of comparative historical linguistics. By understanding the relationship of English to other languages in the Indo-European family tree and by taking account of the historical events and social circumstances that gave rise to the borrowing of words from other languages, students will also come to understand when, how, and why modern English vocabulary has become so indebted to Latin and Greek. A secondary aim of the course is to explore specialized vocabularies in the humanities, medicine, law, science, and technology, whose word-stock is predominantly of Latin and Greek origin. Upon completion of the course, students will have increased their vocabulary and be able to recognize and analyze new words derived from Greek and Latin sources.


Kristen Baxter
Associate Teaching Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Pronouns: She/Her