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hello, Teachers,
I have a young son who is experiencing his first struggles with the (French) grammar. I attempted to explain what the radical of a verb is by using the image of a plant: the roots stay in the ground (= radical), but the leaves, stems, flowers change, come and go (= endings).In French, both "radical" and "roots" (racines) begin with RA-, so I told him, when you think "RAcine" (root), then it's the RAdical, because, and HERE COMES MY QUESTION, I don't want him to mix both words.
Q: Am I right in thinking that the "root" of a word is related to ethymology, whereas the "radical" of a verb is a grammatical notion? I mean, every word has a root, but only verbs have radicals?
Thanks in advance!
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Sorry, I may have been too long on this one.
So, here's my question:
Am I right in thinking that the "root" of a word is related to ethymology, whereas the "radical" of a verb is a grammatical notion? I mean, every word has a root, but only verbs have radicals?
Thanks in advance!
Well, I am niether a teacher nor a linguist, but I can share my understanding of these two words with you. Ready, let's start with 'root'; it is the ultimate starting point for deriving a word, that is, the most basic morphem in a word, but what is a morphem? Let's for example take a word like 'printer.' In 'printer' we have a morphem -er attached to a word 'print'. However, we can not split 'print' itsef into smaller morphems. this means the word 'print' is itsef a single morphem. it is called a 'free morphem' because it can stand as a word. By contrast -er is unable to stand as a word and it is called a 'bound morphem', therefore a'root' is a basic morphem which is able to stand as a word. Now let's continue with 'radical'; in a sense, it carries the same meaning as 'root', that is an uncompounded word without prefix, infix, suffix, or inflectional ending, but sometimes it refers to a sound or letter belonging to a root, which is discused under another topic in linguistics.( hope, Iam not wrong)
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Thank you for you reply, X.m!
Don't worry I know what a morphem is (I took a course in the origins of language back in my univerity days), but you DO seem to know quite a lot on the matter!
I wanted to make sure that my son used to right word, and I don't want to see him using "root" when his teacher uses "radical" (the teacher is a bit worrisome...)
Would you simply agree that "root" is more related to ethymology, whereas "radical" is more often used in grammar?
I didn't respond earlier because I did not know, Pieanne. Having just done an internet search, I can find no strongly distinguishing definition. 'Radical' seems often to be used as the adjective for 'root'.

For example:

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

Radical, n.
1. (Philol.)
(a) A primitive word; a radix, root, or simple, underived,
uncompounded word; an etymon.

Also:

From Dictionary.com:

Root (linguistics):

1. The element that carries the main component of meaning in a word and provides the basis from which a word is derived by adding affixes or inflectional endings or by phonetic change.

2. Such an element reconstructed for a protolanguage. Also called 'radical'.

In this definition, 'radical' is synonymous with 'root' only for reconstructed protolanguages like Indo-European.

Have fun, Pieanne.
Thank you, Mister M.
At least, I'll have a few impressive words at hand if my son's teacher doesn't agree...Emotion: smile
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Bonjour, cher ami
Once you talk about etymology(étymologie en fraçais), it is a totally different domain which is about the origins(not the roots) of the words,and their historical developments. In that jargon, the applied word is 'etymon', neither 'root' nor 'radical' or any other word, so 'root' is the word applied in 'morphology' (and this is where grammar stops) and 'etymon' the one applied in etymology. But, how about 'radical' in its second sense: it is a sound or letter belonging to a root(original consonantal sound in Celtic languages,or one of the three original consonants forming the trilitral roots in Semitic languages ex:f / h,or/ m of a root like "fahm"in Arabic, and I think it is more related to phonemics. a bien tot
Cher ami, (I assume you're a man?)
(and I' m a " chère amie"!)
Thank you very much for explaining all this to me! I have a limited experience and knowledge of all the things you seem to know so well... It's just that I'm used to saying, let's say "the indo-european root of this word", but I 'll sure say nothing esle about the matter!
When we talk about the ethymology of a noun/name, Iguess it means that we are trying to find the origins of the name?
I'm too much a moron in these fields that all I can do is thank you again!
Au revoir, à bientôt, et merci!
I should have known it from the username, I am sorry.
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