Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

Hey Real Spellers


I received a great question (one that always comes up) from a Grade 7 teacher via a vice-principal friend in Beijing today. I decided to offer an initial response here on Real Spellers so that others have access to investigation as well. First, here's the question...


My 8th graders are having a look at the word 'persuasion' this week. After a big discussion they would be interested to know a few things from your perspective. 


The Grade 8 class offered the following hypothesized word sum for <persuasion>


per + suade + s + ion -> persuasion


Because they presented their thinking with a word sum, I can see that what they are struggling with is how to show a structural connection between the words persuade and persuasion. This is a common question that comes up. It's such a great question because how it is posed shows me what this class has been learning, and what they need to learn. 


This was also part of the email passed on to me:


Interesting sounds related to its spelling?


<su> /sw/


<s> /sh/


<ion> schwa?


Again, how exciting that they are asking these questions with the correct angle brackets for what we name as letters, and slash brackets for what is named through pronunciation. I also suspect that the way these questions are asked have been guided by use of the chart I keep pointing people to: 



Because I've never worked with the Grade 8 teachers or students at this school, I'm delighted that they are doing this great work! It appears that the work their elementary colleagues have been doing has got them on the right foot, asking the right questions with the assumption that there is an answer to their questions about these words. They are hoping that they will be able to find a way to explain the structural relationship between these words with a matrix. They ended their question with this statement:


Is there one of those beautiful matrixes made somewhere we could compare our thoughts with?


My VP friend suggested the following word sum and etymological information from etymonline. 


per + suade


persuasion (n.) 

late 14c., "action of inducing (someone) to believe (something); argument to persuade, inducement," from Old French persuasion (14c.) and directly from Latin persuasionem (nom. persuasio) "a convincing, persuading," noun of action from pp. stem of persuadere "persuade, convince," from per- "thoroughly, strongly" (see per) + suadere "to urge, persuade," 


Here, my VP friend shows what would have to be the case if we attempt to make a word sum link persuade  and persuasion:

It could be per + suad(s)e +ion


Ie the d changes to s but that is not in any stuff I have read


As you can see, that word sum forces the invention of suffix changing conventions that don’t appear to have any basis. Seeing that my friend suggests the following:


The Old Grouch may call it a twin base:




Like script/scribe (prescription/prescribe)


Now this is an interesting idea. And If I go back to the information from Etymonline, I see further evidence supporting it. Note that we see the Latin ‘persuasionem (with the nominative form ‘persuasio’) and then we see the past participle Latin form ‘suadere’.


I’m looking forward to Gina Cooke’s and Doug Harpers’ Etymology workshop so that I get better at this side of things, but it seems to me we have good evidence for a twin base element <suade/suase> for ‘urge, persuade’ that could produce the word sums:


per + suade → persuade; per + suase/ + ion → persuasion


This analysis has the benefit of not requiring the introduction of new suffixing changes to show how these words are connected. And it gives the initial investigators a very good reason to dive into the Real Spelling Themes on “twin bases” (See 5H and 5J)


I also encourage people interested in this investigation go to this YouTube link for Part 1 of a video of a class introducing bound and twin bases to a Grade 5/6 class, and this link for part 2.


Hope this helps. Please share what you find. You might want to have the students make a matrix for the base <suade> and another for the base <suase> to test this hypothesis. You can find the matrix making tools and the word searcher at this link to help with that. If you want to contact me directly with help with that, don't hesitate. Here's my email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.






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