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re + sponse/ + ibility ➔ responsibility

Explore the activities I created for this word with reference to the same topic for model SWI lessons in school workshops. I used these activities used in relation to the wording of Goal #12 from UN Sustainable Development Goals. I’ve also investigated this word with respect to Selassie’s famous speech on responsibility.


WW Newsletter 99 Greta Speech 49

Note: “PIE” stands for “proto-European root”. “Proto-” is for “first” (think “prototype”). The initial asterisk in Etymology signals a “reconstructed root”. PIE roots are not spellings. They represent what linguists hypothesize must have been a word in a “proto-language” that gave birth to such diverse languages as Sanskrit, German, French, Latin an English. As you go down entries in Etymonline you are going back in time to earlier and earlier roots. We can think of the word “from” in Etymonline as signalling a generation back in the history of the word. PIE roots can be very interesting to explore, but they are not orthographic roots. We don’t have the same evidence about these historical roots and how they gave rise to present day English words. I like to follow the trail of a words history through roots in Etymonline and other etymological references until I hit a PIE root. The roots just before that are the “oldest written root” of the starter word. A common practice is to find the oldest written root of a word, paste it in Etymonline and search to find etymological relatives.

Box the base & make a word sum!

All the words below are from the Latin root spond(ere), spons(us) for “promise, pledge” (same etymological family). MOST share the bound base <sponse> (same morphological family). Note but the final, non-syllabic <e> of this base is replaced whenever it is followed by a vowel suffix.

  1. Box the full base <sponse> where possible and just the <spons> when the <e> is replaced. (Which doesn’t have this base?)
  2. Show the “replaced <e>” as I have in <sponsor> when it is replaced.
  3. Have a go at making word sums for the target word. Draw a line through any final, potential, non-syllabic <e>’s.



How does the word <responsible> relate to our sustainable development goal #12?

Responsible consumption and Production:
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Why are some of these words not in the matrix, but in the oval?
Why is <promise> not in the oval or the matrix?


Etymological and Morphological Families are like “people families”

Etymological families share a common root.
Etymological families are like “extended families”. Cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents all share common “roots.” Etymological families can include many “immediate families”.

Morphological families share a common base.
Morphological families are like “immediate families”. They only include parents and children (siblings).

Morphological and etymological relatives of <responsibility> with the bound base <sponse>.
The words below are all in the same etymological family. They all derive from the Latin root spond(ere) "give assurance, promise solemnly". Which do you think share the base <sponse>?

respondent      despond      response      sponsor

responsible      respond      spouse      espouse


Responsible consumption and Production:
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.


Which of these words are in the same morphological family as <responsibility>?

 response      ponder      irresponsible      responsive      coupons

sponsor      responsible      responsibilities      ability      sponsorship


SelassieStudy the eloquent statement from Haile Selassie on ‘responsibility” at right.

The lessons I created on the previous pages were initially created as a way to study the ideas behind this statement.

However, I would argue that this statement about responsibility and the fortunate few verses the unfortunate many is extremely apt for Greta’s speech on the climate crisis. It links to her statement about “equity” that is addressed on page 7 of this document.

You may want to consider discussing Selassie’s quote with reference to the climate crisis in terms of the fact that the “developed world” has had the advantage of building its infrastructure and economies while eating up the lion’s share of the global climate budget. Now that we near the end of the available carbon consumption, we need the developing world to not have the advantage we had if we want all of us to survive.

This offers an opportunity to discuss why the developed world has a moral obligation to support not only our own reduction in carbon use, but that of poorer countries.

Perhaps Selassie’s speech on responsibility can provide a rich launching pad for that conversation.

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