How to work with Algebra: Part 3

Algebra can seem confusing – as you are using letters as well as numbers. But before you start revising – have a look at some fun facts about words.

Did you know that there are words in the dictionary that are only there due to human errors. These are known as ghost words, and usually arose from typing errors. People then believed they were actually part of the language. Some of these words  you will be familiar with!

• Gravy: It appears this only became a word after a 14th century translator misread a French recipe. It should have read “grane”, and at the time meant “anything used in cooking”. When translated to English – the n was replaced accidentally with v – and so gravy began

• Dord: This non existent word has been removed from dictionaries now. However, it was in for 8 years in the 20th century, until 1947. Apparently the original entry in the dictionary had “D or d”, as in either D or d, to abbreviate the word density. But someone misread this as a full word “dord”. It literally had no meaning at all.

• Syllabus: For all of you studying GCSE’s – you will have heard of this word. This first came about from a misprint in the 15th Century. Although Cicero, a Roman philosopher, died in 43 C, letters he wrote have the word “sittybas” or “sittubas” in them. This is a Greek word meaning a label for a book. However, one printing of his work spelled this incorrectly as syllabus. Many people believed it was a Latin word, and the spelling of it remained – taking on a new meaning in the mid 1600’s

• Esquivalience: This was a deliberate entry, invented by the editor of an American dictionary. Wanting to catch people stealing information from his dictionary – he made up this word, and defined it as “the wilful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities”. If seen in any other dictionary – he would know it had been stolen. Very sneaky!!

• To help you understand algebra more, try Part 2 of our “How to” Algebra guides. This section provides guidance on power and roots, and explains how to expand single, double and triple brackets. There are example questions for you to try at the end of the power point, and answers are included so you can check your understanding.

If you have a fear of numbers, then check out Part 3 of our “How to” Algebra guides. This section provides guidance on factorising expressions, including single brackets and the difference of two squares. There are example questions for you to try at the end of the power point, and answers are included so you can check your understanding.
Click on the picture below to view our guide.
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