Many English vocabulary-building books (for example, Merriam-Webster Vocabulary Builder, Word Power Made Easy) break the meaning of words down into three pieces:
On the website “Etymology Online”, I was wondering how to determine the root of a given word in English, given that etymology details which past words in past languages the word evolved from.
If the word is descended from various parts and pieces from various languages, which one is considered the ‘root’?
English etymology traces back to many languages: Old French, Latin, Proto-Italic, Proto-Germanic, Greek, PIE, and more. Which one should we seek the original “root” or origin of the word in?
Are we looking for some point where a compound word in the past was split into a prefix, a root, and a suffix?
Can that split can happen in any language English inherits from?
What if there is no split in the ancestral tree of a word? How do I figure out which component today is the “root”?
For example, “component” has prefix “com-“, root “pon”, and suffix “ent”. If I only knew that “component” comes from Latin, could I use that information to figure out the prefix-root-suffix structure, on my own?