My friend's native languages are Cantonese and Mandarin. She rates herself at B1. Peer-reviewed research substantiates that etymology can assist in learning vocabulary. See Google Scholar. English SE has an obvious example.

  1. What books teach English using linguistics like Etymology, Semantics, and Derivational Morphology?
    She has been learning English for 20 years. Yet, until I showed her today, she didn't know the semantic shift of "even" as an adjective to "even" as an adverb, or how Latin putare is the root behind "amputate; compute; count ; depute; deputy; dispute; impute; pave; pavement; putative; reputation; repute."

  2. To filter for quality, she prefers authors who are linguists with PhD in linguistics aware of research on L2 Acquisition.

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    I assure you that many native English speakers don't know that putare is the root behind all those words. Such knowledge is not essential to being a competent speaker. – Hayze Jun 29 '19 at 17:37
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    Forget etymology. Your friends needs to learn the most used prefixes and suffixes from Latin and Greek. That will help her. After that, she can study other major derivations. And facts. Such as: most common verbs in English have a Germanic version and a Latin version: What time did he arrive? [Latin] What time did he get there? [Germanic] It sounds to me as if she has not studied at a very advanced level... – Lambie Jul 3 '19 at 14:53
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    @Hayze Just double-checking if you read the linked research on etymology in my post? – NNOX Apps Jul 10 '19 at 18:15
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    @Lambie Any book recommendations for learning affixes? – NNOX Apps Jul 10 '19 at 18:15
  • @Greek-Area51Proposal I'm not saying that etymology cannot assist with language learning. I'm saying that it is not required for speaking a language. You said that your friend did not know some etymological facts. What I'm suggesting is that it is not evidence of incompetence in speaking English. – Hayze Jul 10 '19 at 20:31


The American Heritage Dictionary is as authoritative an etymological resource as they come. This link covers Latin, Greek, Germanic and other Indo-European roots in English. It is not specifically tailored to Chinese speakers, but it need not be.

  • I hope this helps. You don't need to know historical linguistics, but you will learn it from this resource. It is useful for English learners and native speakers alike, especially those who speak a non-Indo-European language. – K Man Jul 11 '19 at 0:58

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