Amateur

One of the reasons I haven’t been blogging all the cute projects that people love to visit on my site recently is because my children haven’t been doing so many.  My oldest, who was six when I started blogging, is now twelve.

He does Latin and works on his multiplication tables (because he finds it frustrating that he still doesn’t have them memorized).  He sets himself a schedule for doing push-ups and stretching.  Chores and Tae Kwon Do are as much a part of our day sometimes as school is. I still have a couple of smaller kids, but with two bigger kids in the house, there isn’t always as much time for food fun or crafts as I would like. We go on a ton more field trips.  Life has changed at our house.

Recently, we picked up Latin again after a couple of years absence and one of the first words that Bennett re-memorized was “amo.” It, of course, translates to “I love or I like.” We do the whole conjugation chant as well. “amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant.” If you have a Latin student, I’m sure that you recognize it.

One of the things that we didn’t know that was that one of the derivatives of “amo” is “amateur.”  The word amateur has been a big one for us lately. The children have all been watching Dragon Ball Z recently, and there’s one character who is buffoonish, and he likes to go around calling the “real fighters” amateurs.

It has been difficult to find a real explanation of amateur that we can latch onto. The Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as:

A person attached to a particular pursuit, study or science, as to music or painting; one who has a taste for the arts.

We didn’t find that especially helpful. Our google dictionary search came back with:

A person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid basis.

As a side note, it’s amazing how words change over time. I tried using the Olympics as an example of amateurs, and then I realized how many professional athletes there are at the Olympics, so it was difficult to build the right definition for him.

Latin gave us our answer. “Amo” means “I love,” and an a person who is an amateur does something because of love and does not expect payment in return.  For example, I have a teaching degree, but most teachers would consider me to be an amateur.  After all, the only students I have taught have been either my own or in volunteer classes.  I teach because I love teaching, and not because I get a paycheck or expect a payment in return.

This he could understand.  An amateur does for love and a professional does as their career and for payment.  There’s sometimes a huge difference in skill level, and sometimes not, but the motivations, internal concerns and pressures are completely different. I love when we’re able to get a deeper sense of a word just from learning its roots.

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