Some students came up with an excellent question today during an inquiry into the different related words to <wonder>. They realized that every other word they could come up with that is wonder+suffix does NOT change the base word at all. For example wonder+ful-->wonderful, wonder+ing-->wondering, wonder+s-->wonders, etc. However, the kids came up with two examples where the base DOES change: wondrous and wondrously. After looking on etymonline, and checking both word origins, as well as trying to find any other words that follow this pattern, we were unable to come up with a satisfactory hypothesis to explain this shift in the base. Does anyone have any ideas about what we could do next to continue this investigation? I, as the teacher, am a bit stymied at this point.

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  1. Laura Kuniansky

I guessed wrong. Here is what Online Etymology Dictionary (Pete Bowers website) had to say about wondrous:
wondrous (adj.) Look up wondrous at Dictionary.com
c. 1500, from Middle English wonders (adj.), early 14c., originally genitive of wonder (n.), with suffix altered by influence of marvelous, etc. As an adverb from 1550s. Related: Wondrously; wondrousness

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  1. Laura Kuniansky

I'm thinking the reason for the spelling "wondrous" is because the pronunciation only has 2 syllables and each syllable has a vowel, so "wonderous", the three syllable word is pronounced and spelled differently. It seems to me it's a simple matter of spelling it the way it is pronounced. It's like the Uncle Remus books in the southern U.S. Words are spelled the way southern slang pronounces them, so the reader reads them authentically.

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