The original meaning of the word ‘home’, in English and many other Indo-European languages too, was of a safe dwelling place, a village, even a world; In Old English it came to mean a fixed abode where people habitually lived and sometimes was extended to include members of a family (home circle). Webster’s says that ‘house’ (from a reconstructed Indo-European base meaning) comes from the same root as ‘sky’ and was used to mean a ‘covering and concealing’. Our modern usage of these two words can be traced back to these original meanings. ‘Home’ has connotations of a feeling of belonging, a centre of affection, a place where you can find refuge and rest, it is something intimate and private. If you think about the words ‘homely’ and ‘homemaker’ (as opposed to ‘housekeeper’), you immediately get the feeling of an atmosphere, a family (in fact we talk of a ‘broken home’ where the parents are separated). It even has the sense of a destination -‘homeward bound’ (old hippies will remember the Simon and Garfunkel song), and also a nation (home vs. foreign policy; Browning’s poem Home Thoughts From Abroad). Generally, ‘home’ only refers to one’s own place; we’d say ‘I went round to Adrian’s house’ not his ‘home’. House, in the meaning of a covering or storage place, is clear in such things as a greenhouse, henhouse, the House of Commons, a clearing house, etc. It is a physical structure not a place where one should supposedly receive kind treatment and feel relaxed (‘Make yourself at home’).
Ever wondered why we say to go/arrive/get home (i.e. without any preposition)? This is a remnant from Old English where the accusative case was used without a preposition, like the Latin ‘domum’, with the sense of ‘to one’s house, to home’.
Brainstorm students on the difference between ‘house’ and ‘home’. Then get them to think of all the compound words beginning with ‘home’ (e.g. homebred, -coming, -land, -less, -made, -maker, -stead, -stretch, -video, -work) and compare these with any expressions they can think of containing ‘house’. This should confirm and consolidate the difference between home and house.
Home sweet home
• Do the listening exercise before students look at their page.
• Students hear two people talking about typical houses in their country. Students then look at their page. With low-level classes, after listening, students should identify which kind of house was being talked about (picture); higher-level classes should also note the minor differences between the two descriptions.
1. Well in South Africa there are many more blacks than whites and a lot of the blacks, most of them I think live in rural areas, and they have round houses with thatched roofs, and mud walls, and no chimneys, and there’s a gap between the wall and the roof for ventilation.
2. In Uganda we live in a thatched house, that has the roof made with sticks and grass, the wall is made, of mud, of sticks covered with the mud, the floor is also smeared with mud to make it smooth; and between the roof and the wall there is a space of about half a metre for ventilation. There are two windows usually on the sides.
• After the listening, students discuss the other illustrations. In groups they decide in which countries such houses would be typically found.
• Students now discuss why they were built in such a way (and with what materials), and what the advantages and disadvantages are of such houses (in terms of living conditions, cost, maintenance, appearance, etc.).
• Students discuss the housing situation in their country -where is the best place to live (both on a national, regional and city level), whether it’s easy to rent or buy.