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soupçon, even in such phrases as “there is a soupçon of chicory in this coffee,” meaning just a touch, just the smallest atom of chicory.
As circum means round about, so circumspect means, of course, cautious, careful.
With in, meaning into, specere forms inspicere, to inspect; hence inspector, inspection.
With ad, towards, specere becomes adspicere, to look at a thing. Hence adspectus, the aspect, the look or appearance of things.
So with pro, forward, specere became prospicere ; and gave rise to such words as prospectus, as it were a look out, prospective, &c. With con, with, spicere forms conspicere, to see together, conspectus, conspicuous. We saw before in respectable, that a new word spectare is formed from the participle of spicere. This, with the preposition ex, out, gives us the Latin expectare, the English to expect, to look out; with its derivatives.
Auspicious is another word which contains our root as the second of its component elements. The Latin auspicium stands for avispicium, and meant the looking out for certain birds which were considered to be of good or bad omen to the success of any public or private act. Hence auspicious, in the sense of lucky. Haru-spex was the name given to a person who foretold the future from the inspection of the entrails of animals.
Again, from specere, speculum was formed, in the sense of looking-glass, or any other means of looking at oneself; and from it speculari, the English to speculate, speculative, &c.
But there are many more offshoots of this one root. Thus, the Latin speculum, looking-glass, became spec
chio in Italian ; and the same word, though in a roundabout way, came into French as the adjective espiègle, waggish. The origin of this French word is curious. There exists in German a famous cycle of stories, mostly tricks, played by a half-historical, half-mythical character of the name of Eulenspiegel, or Owl-glass. These stories were translated into French, and the hero was known at first by the name of Ulespiègle, which name, contracted afterwards into Espiègle, became a general name for every wag.
As the French borrowed not only from Latin, but likewise from the Teutonic languages, we meet there side by side with the derivatives of the Latin specere, the old High-German, spëhôn, slightly disguised as épier, to spy, the Italian spiare. The German word for a spy was spëha, and this appears in old French as espie, in modern French as espion.
One of the most prolific branches of the same root is the Latin species. Whether we take species in the sense of a perennial succession of similar individuals in continual generations (Jussieu), or look upon it as existing only as a category of thought (Agassiz), species was intended originally as the literal translation of the Greek eidos as opposed to genos, or genus. The Greeks classified things originally according to kind and form, and though these terms were afterwards technically defined by Aristotle, their etymological meaning is in reality the most appropriate. Things may be classified either because they are of the same genus or kind, that is to say, because they had the same origin ; this gives us a genealogical classification: or they can be classified because they have the same appearance, eidos, or form, without claiming for them a common origin; and this gives us a mor
phological classification. It was, however, in the Aristotelian, and not in its etymological sense, that the Greek eidos was rendered in Latin by species, meaning the subdivision of a genus, the class of a family. Hence the French espèce, a kind; the English special, in the sense of particular as opposed to general. There is little of the root spaś, to see, left in a special train, or a special messenger ; yet the connection, though not apparent, can be restored with perfect certainty. We frequently hear the expression to specify.
A man specifies his grievances. What does it mean? The mediæval Latin specificus is a literal translation of the Greek eidopoios. This means what makes or constitutes an eidos or species. Now, in classification, what constitutes a species is that particular quality which, superadded to other qualities, shared in common by all the members of a genus, distinguishes one class from all other classes. Thus the specific character which distinguishes man from all other animals, is reason or language. Specific, therefore, assumed the sense of distinguishing or distinct, and the verb to specify conveyed the meaning of enumerating distinctly, or one by one. I finish with the French épicier, a respectable grocer, but originally a man who sold drugs. The different kinds of drugs which the apothecary had to sell, were spoken of, with a certain learned air, as species, not as drugs in general, but as peculiar drugs and special medicines.
Hence the chymist or apothecary is still called Speziale in Italian, his shop spezieria. In French species, which regularly became espèce, assumed a new form to express drugs, namely épices; the English spices, the German spezereien.
i Generi coloniali, colonial goods. Marsh, p. 253. In Spanish, generos, inerchandise.
Hence the famous pain d'épices, gingerbread nuts, and épicier, a grocer. If you try for a moment to trace spicy, or a well-spiced article, back to the simple root specere, to look, you will understand that marvellous power of language which out of a few simple elements has created a variety of names hardly surpassed by the unbounded variety of nature herself.1
I say "out of a few simple elements," for the number of what we call full predicative roots, such as ar, to plough, or spas, to look, is indeed small.
A root is necessarily monosyllabic. Roots consisting of more than one syllable can always be proved to be derivative roots, and even among monosyllabic roots it is necessary to distinguish between primitive, secondary, and tertiary roots. A. Primitive roots are those which consist
(1) of one vowel ; for instance, i, to go;
ad, to eat;
då, to give. B. Secondary roots are those which consist — (1) of one consonant, vowel, and consonant; for
instance, tud, to strike. In these roots either the first or the last consonant is modificatory. C. Tertiary roots are those which consist (1) of consonant, consonant, and vowel ; for in
stance, plu, to flow; (2) of vowel, consonant, and consonant ; for in
stance, ard, to hurt ; 1 Many derivatives might have been added, such as specimen, spectator, le spectacle, specialité, spectrum, spectacles, specious, specula, &c.
(3) of consonant, consonant, vowel, and conso
nant; for instance, spas, to see ; (4) of consonant, consonant, vowel, consonant,
and consonant; for instance, spand, to
tremble. The primary roots are the most important in the early history of language; but their predicative power being generally of too indefinite a character to answer the purposes of advancing thought, they were soon encroached upon and almost supplanted by secondary and tertiary radicals.
In the secondary roots we can frequently observe that one of the consonants, in the Aryan languages, generally the final, is liable to modification. The root retains its general meaning, which is slightly modified and determined by the changes of the final consonants. Thus, besides tud (tudati), we have in Sanskrit tup (topati, tupati, and tumpati), meaning to strike; Greek, typ-to. We meet likewise with tubh (tubhnáti, tubhyati, tobhate), to strike; and, according to Sanskrit grammarians, with tuph (tophati, tuphati, tumphati). Then there is a root tuj (tunjati, tojati), to strike, to excite; another root, tur (tutorti), to which the same meaning is ascribed ; another, tûr (túryate), to hurt. Then there is the further derivative turv (tûrvati), to strike, to conquer; there is tuh (tohati), to pain, to vex; and there is tuś (tošate), to which Sanskrit grammarians attribute the sense of striking.
Although we may call all these verbal bases roots, they stand to the first class in about the same relation as the triliteral Semitic roots to the more primitive biliteral.1
1 Benloew, Aperçu Général, p. 28 seq.