Second grader Max is interested in WWII. We were reading together from a book we made for him. And right there on the first page is the word treaty, which he didn’t recognize.

We talked a bit about the definition of treaty, a new word for Max. It’s a written agreement, generally between two countries, where both sides agree to behave in a certain way. Thanks go to¬†for helping us out with that.

Treaty is built from a free base element <treat> and <y>, in this case a noun-forming suffix. What’s the connection between a treat and a treaty? A treaty pulls countries together and a treat is something that pulls you in. And how you treat someone has to do with how you handle them. Metaphorically speaking, how you drag or pull them about.

More relatives in the image above. Yes, they all have something to do with pull. We asked Max to explain why treaty was written with the <ea> grapheme when <ee>, for example, would be just as plausible. He understood! While there are other ways to write /i/, <ea> is the only one that marks treaty’s connection to its relatives and links to the idea of “pull.”

Teaching Max is a treat.