Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trying to trick us with the "ped" root

Here is a recent SAT Question of the Day:
Bolstered by his unflagging determination and ------- physical preparation, Tom Whittaker became the first amputee to successfully climb to the summit of Mount Everest.

A. fortuitous
B. assiduous
C. heedless
D. expeditious
E. pedantic

The Latin "ped" refers to the foot (as in a centipede or a pedestrian), so an SAT guesser with a little Latin might be lured into making a bad choice.

A "pedant" is a scholarly bore -- that is a: one who parades his learning b: one who is unimaginative or who unduly emphasizes minutiae in the presentation or use of knowledge It comes from the Italian word pedante, for male schoolteacher.

So how did feet get associated with teachers?

It was back when a paedagogus (Latin) or paidagogos [from the Greek paid, foot + agogos, leader, same root as agent] was the slave who escorted children to school.

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