Eager (enthusiastic desire or interest), zealous (ardent; fervent), diligent (careful and persevering in carrying out tasks), and addicted to study


The English language has travelled so far through History and served as the prime medium of communication for so many cultures.



Are you addicted to study - Official Website - BenjaminMadeira
Are you addicted to study - Photo: old-print.com

Canada | Benjamin Madeira —


Obligatory assignment: As part of my University studies I am writing an obligatory assignment which has to do with proficiency in the English language. It has two components: 1) blog post, 2) blog comment

1. The blog post. I looked for a blog that dealed with English language issues. I selected a blog entry which discussed an aspect of or aspects of the English language – relating to its grammar, vocabulary, or usage. My task was to write a blog entry which includes the following:

the main points covered in the language blog post
what I learned from it
how I came across that particular blog
the author
the credibility of the source
the full url of the language blog post

The title of my blog post should reflect the content of my entry, and my blog post should be between 250 and 400 words. The blog did not need to be from a publisher or a renown linguist.

2. Blog comment: I needed to respond to (at least) one language blog post. I needed to comment on a blog post that had not been commented before. I needed to comment specifically on one issue brought up in my peer's blog post, and I needed to include a question related to the topic(s) covered in the post.



Today I would like to comment on a blog-post published by Katherine Patricia Mary Barber, also known just as Katherine Barber (1959) and often referred to as Canada's word lady.



This is how I evaluated the credibility of my sources: 1) where does the author work?, 2) if the author is affiliated with a reputable institution or organization, what are its values and goals?, 3) what is her educational background?, 4) what other works has the author published?, 5) what experience does the author have?, 6) has this author been cited as a source by other scholars or experts in the field?



Katherine Barber is a former editor-in-chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. The title of her post is "Eager, zealous, diligent, and addicted to study, yup". She has been posting on the English language since july 2009. She is in fact an expert on the English language, and has written several articles about the English Language in newspapers, and given lectures on the English Language as well.



In general, Katherine Barber provides some really interesting points of how and why English is such a strange and wonderful language.



I came across her blog by searching online which blog had won the Love English Awards in 2013, and I found the nominees. It read: "Vote for your favourite blog about the English language".



The English language has been so absorbent, soaking up words and phrases from every language it has touched. The main points Katherine Barber covers in her post have to do with "school and university terms", specifically about the terms "pupil" and "student".



Katherine Barber informs her readers that both "pupil" in school and the one of the eye originated from the same Latin word, before they took completely diverging directions. "Pupillus" was the original Latin word when it was incorporated into the English language and it meant "an orphan child".



I learned from her post that the word "student", was defined in its first sense in the Oxford English Dictionary as "A person who is engaged in or addicted to study".



Katherine Barber writes also that "although the language distinguished between students at university and pupils in lower education, starting in about 1900 in the US, the word "student" came to be used of all levels of instruction". In this context I learned that the Norwegian language still distinguishes between students ["studenter"] at university and pupils ["elever"] in lower education. While in Latin-American Spanish we use both "student" [estudiante] for both students at university and pupils in lower education, but also "alumno" referring to pupils in lower education.



By the time the English language was first written down, around 700 a. C., it already had lots of borrowed words from Norse, Latin, and Celtic. Now, 13 centuries later, half its vocabulary comes from French and the other half comes from Arabic, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Scottish, Spanish, and other languages I do not recall right now.



In my post I would like to give more details or sources concerning the use of both terms "pupil" and "student".



When I was a child, my first teacher advised his "pupils", to behave us as "students" and not as "alumnos" (Spanish word for "pupils". And then he went on to explain us that the word "alumno" meant "a person without light".



If he were alive now I would refute his theory. There is a popular urban legend in Spanish speaking countries, desguised as "etymology", which is absurd, saying that "alumno" ["alumnus"], is a compound word: the negative "a" (from Greek, not from Latin) and "lumen", meaning "light"; and that the Spanish ending "-no" ["alumNO"] makes it obvious that it means "without". Thus, "alumno" ["pupil"] would mean "he/she who has no light", or "he/she who is not illuminated".



We know that in Latin they did not compound words mixing Greek and Latin stems. Therefore, it does not make sense. We have to notice as well that the Latin word ends in -nus, which has nothing to do with the Latin negative non.



As Katherine Barber points out, "alumnus", originally meant "foster child, nourished one", literally who had recieved breast milk. Here it is an example in the Epistles (or Letters) of Horace, Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus, I.4, 8:



Quid voveat dulci nutricula maius alumno?

What more would a nurse desire for her sweet darling? (" [...] her sweet child ", my translation)


From that time on, "alumnus" must have also become "pupil", meaning "disciple". People probably understood that it meant "to provide someone with intelectual feeding". Marcus Tullius Cicero, the Roman philosopher, politician, orator, uses the term in his work "De finibus bonorum et malorum" ("On the ends of good and evil"), this way:



Quid ait Aristoteles reliquique Platonis alumni? Se omnia, quae secundum naturam sint, bona appellare, quae autem contra, mala. Book IV, 72, p. 378


What say Aristotle and the others pupils of Plato? That they call all things in accordance with nature good and all things contrary to nature bad. Book IV, 72, p. 379



We learn from Katherine's post that "in Shakespeare's time, the word ["pupill", added by me] was being used to mean a university student; by the 19th century it came to be restricted to schoolchildren".



We find the word "pupil" ["pupill"] in Shakespeare's sonnet XVI



[...] So ſhould the lines of life that life repaire
Which this (Times penſel or my pupill pen )
Neither in inward worth nor outward faire
[...]


The term "student" came from the Latin verb (present active) "studeō"; (present infinitive) "studēre", but the original meaning of "studeo" /ˈstu.de.oː/ was not like our modern meaning "to study", but "to be eager, zealous, diligent", meaning "to be careful and persevering in carrying out tasks."



We can find an example of this in the series of The Gallic Wars:



Dumnorix, cupiditate regni adductus, novis rebus studebat.

Dúmnorix, incited by lust of sovereignty, was anxious for a revolution.


Full context:
Dumnorix, [by his popularity and liberality, had great influence among the Sequani, and was friendly to the Helvetii, because out of that state he had married the daughter of Orgetorix; and], incited by lust of sovereignty, was anxious for a revolution, [and wished to have as many states as possible attached to him by his kindness toward them].


Dumnorix [gratia et largitione apud Sequanos plurimum poterat et Helvetiis erat amicus, quod ex ea civitate Orgetorigis filiam in matrimonium duxerat, et] cupiditate regni adductus novis rebus studebat [et quam plurimas civitates suo beneficio habere obstrictas volebat]. [Gall.1,9]


Out of this general meaning, since the Century I a. C. they began using the verb as we know it in our times, meaning "to study letters" ("litteris studere"), it is to say, "to be eager, zealous, attentive and persistent in learning letters", which is "to study".



Let us see an example of this usage:



Here it is a fragment of Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (b. 35 – d. 100), the Roman rhetorician from Hispania, in his "Institutio Oratoria" (Institutes of Oratory) 12:19:



Nunc computamus annos, non quibus studuimus, sed quibus viximus.

We now compute, not how many years we have studied, but how many we have lived. Book 12, Chapter 11, verse 19.


"Pupil" is still used in Britain, but in Australia and in the USA, for instance, it has been ousted by "student". Once upon a time a "student" was someone in higher education, but now it can include primary and secondary education. So it is often necessary to specify "school student", "college student", "university student", "doctoral student". Finally, if you are studying at a university or other place of higher or lower education, then you are defined as addicted to study, in the pure sense of the word.



About Katherine Patricia Mary Barber (born 1959)


She is a Canadian lexicographer and was previously Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.



Katherine Barber began her dictionary work with the Bilingual Canadian Dictionary project at the University of Ottawa. She has been interviewed around the world. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary won the Canadian Booksellers Association's Libris Award for Non-Fiction Book of the Year and Specialty Book for 1999.



Katherine Barber won the Libris Award for Editor of the Year in 1999, and was the winner of the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2000 at the University of Winnipeg.



From 1984 to 1991, she was a lecturer in the School of Translation and Interpretation at the University of Ottawa.



From 1989 to 1991, she was a research associate with the Bilingual Canadian Dictionary project at the University of Ottawa.



Katherine Barber has published:
Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs and Other Fascinating Facts about the Language from Canada's Word Lady (2006) Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

Newspaper clip, on April 28th, 2006, PDF, about her book "Six Words..."

Only in Canada You Say: A Treasury of Canadian Language (2007) , Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press

Katherine Patricia Mary Barber can be reached at:





Blogger: since July 2009

Studies: University of Ottawa, University of Winnipeg



RT: #KatherineBarber #student #pupil #pupillus #alumno #alumnus ✔ #studenter #elever — #pupill #alumni #proficiency #English



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  1. BVt wherefore do not you a mightier waie Make warre vppon this bloudie tirant time? And fortifie your ſelfe in your decay With meanes more bleſſed then my barren rime? Now ſtand you on the top of happie houres, And many maiden gardens yet vnſet, With vertuous wiſh would beare your liuing flowers, Much liker then your painted counterfeit: So ſhould the lines of life that life repaire Which this (Times penſel or my pupill pen ) Neither in inward worth nor outward faire Can make you liue your ſelfe in eies of men, To giue away your ſelfe,keeps your ſelfe ſtill, And you muſt liue drawne by your owne ſweet ſkill

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  2. RT: At most old UK schools (especially independent schools and grammar schools), New Zealand schools, South African schools, Sri Lankan schools, a few universities in the UK, and to a lesser extent in Australia and Canada, the phrases old boy and old girl are traditionally used for former school pupils, and old member or member (or "alumnus" in Australia and New Zealand) for former university students.

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    1. An interesting piece from The Sunday Times on this: "There is general support in the room for Ms Alternative. Ms Sensible’s cheeks heat up. “Well, it’s only a proposal, of course. It isn’t so much for the sake of the pupils — ” “Sorry, Ms Sensible,” interrupts the head of science. “I think you mean ‘students’. As Mr Goodheart [the head teacher] has explained, ‘pupils’ is far too patronising a term.” –

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  3. I am from the United States and work in the public schools. It's my experience that people attending school at all grade school are by far most typically referred to as "students," rather than "pupils," both in conversation and in writing. I have met non-native speakers who find it disconcerting that we use the same word for first-graders as college students, but it is the standard word to use, at least in the United States. As one example, the school standards for the state of Minnesota refer to "students" throughout, regardless of age. For instance:

    "The grades K–5 standards on the following pages define what students should understand and be able to do by the end of each grade." (K-5 means kindergarten through 5th grade, ages five to eleven or so.)

    You can also just refer to them as "kids" or "children," if the school context is already there. If you know the specific grade, you can say "first graders," "second graders," etc. "Pupils" in any context is more unusual and sounds more old-fashioned.

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