The room was packed to hear Leo Selivan’s (British Council) talk on:
Does the word “synonym” have a synonym?
Leo began with giving us an historical background, explaining about Latinate and Germanic influences, but didn’t get “bogged down” there. All through the session he encouraged participation and there was a lively debate regarding words that are synonyms and those that aren’t really. Part of the “arguments” had to do with the fact that some of the teachers in the audience speak “American English” while others speak “British English”. I was particularly interested in the debate about whether or not the words “child” and “infant” are synonyms. As a native speaker from the USA those words seem totally different to me. I knew it was used differently in French because of the movie “Au revoir les enfants” (louie Malle). In that movie the children were certainly not under the age of two!
Leo ended the talk with some practical suggestions for the classroom.
Here’s a link to a related blog post by Leo Selivan: