Where are they from – my original list

Below is the list of words I usually use when the class starts to complain about English spellings.

As a warmer, list the words in groups on one side of the board and the languages on the other, in pairs, the students guess/decide where groups of words originated from.  Pairs then compare their answers with others.

Getting the exercise ‘right’ is almost meaningless, but using English to negotiate uncertainty, possibility and probability is the true purpose of the task.

No idea!, I haven’t a clue!, Search me!, I’m buggered if I know,; They could be…., They might be…. They are possibly….; I think they are …. I seem to remember that ….. is ….. I’m sure ….. is ……. and so on.

Where are they from?

Manual, manipulate, century, vocal

Democracy, biology, telephone

Shampoo, thug, punch

Algebra, alcohol, orange


Vodka, tsar


Anger, egg, flat, root, window

Wrath, shirt, ditch

Tax, judge, fashion, art, sculpture

Knife, wife, calf, dwarf

Latin, Greek, Hindi, Arabic, Czech, Russian, Polish (or Hungarian, or Slovak as students may want to claim)

Anger etc., – Norse, Old English, French, Anglo-Saxon


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