Page images


of Leiru labour,

afterwards used to signify labor in general. The gen eral tendency in the growth of words and their mean

ings is from the special to the more general : thus gubernare, which originally meant to steer a ship, took

the general sense of governing. To equip, which
originally was to furnish a ship (French équiper and
esquif, from schifo, ship), came to mean furnishing in
general. Now in modern German, arbeit means sim-
ply labor; arbeitsam means industrious. In Gothic,
too, arbaibs is only used to express labor and trouble
in general. But in Old Norse, erfidhi means chiefly

ploughing, and afterwards labor in general ; and the Formween slacio. same word in Anglo-Saxon, earfodh or earfedhe, is labor.

Of course we might equally suppose that, as laborer,
from meaning one who labors in general, came to take
the special sense of an agricultural laborer, so arbeit,
from meaning work in general, came to be applied, in
Old Norse, to the work of ploughing. But as the root
of erfidhi seems to be ar, our first explanation is the
more plausible. Besides, the simple ar in Old Norse
means ploughing and labor, and the Old High-German
art has likewise the sense of ploughing. 1

"Apoupa and arvum, a field, would certainly have to
be referred to the root ar, to plough. And as plough-
ing was not only one of the earliest kinds of labor, but
also one of the most primitive arts, I have no doubt
that the Latin ars, artis, and our own word art, meant
originally the art of all arts, first taught to mortals by

1 Grimm derives arbeit, Gothic arbaiths, Old High-German arapeit, Modern High-German arbeit, directly from the Gothic arbja, heir; but admits a relationship between arbja and the root arjan, to plough. He identifies arbja with the Slavonic, rab, servant, slave, and arbeit with rabota, corvée, supposing that sons and heirs were the first natural slaves. He supposes even a relationship between rabota and the Latin labor. German Dictionary, s. v. Arbeit.

the goddess of all wisdom, the art of cultivating the land. In Old High-German arunti, in Anglo-Saxon cerend, mean simply work; but they too must originally have meant the special work of agriculture; and in the English errand, and errand-boy, the same word is still in existence.

But ar did not only mean to plough, or to cut open the land ; it was transferred at a very early time to the ploughing of the sea, or rowing. Thus Shakspeare says:

“Make the sea serve them; which they ear and wound

With keels." In a similar manner, we find that Sanskrit derives from ar the substantive aritra, not in the sense of a

piough, but in the sense of a rudder. In Anglo-Saxon 7 we find the simple form år, the English oar, as it were

the plough-share of the water. The Greek also had used the root ar in the sense of rowing; for épétns in Greek is a rower, and their word tpl-up-ns, meant originally a ship with three oars, or with three rows of oars,' a trireme.

This comparison of ploughing and rowing is of frequent occurrence in ancient languages. The English

word plough, the Slavonic ploug, has been identified 7 with the Sanskrit plava,3 a ship, and with the Greek

ploion, ship. As the Aryans spoke of a ship ploughing the sea, they also spoke of a plough sailing across the field; and thus it was that the same names were

1 Latin remus (O. Irish rám) for resmus, connected with épetuós. From épétns, épécow; and útrpétns, servant, helper. Rostrum from rodere.

2 Cf. Εur. Ηec. 455, κώπη αλιήρης. 'Αμφήρης means having oars on both sides.

8 From Sanskrit plu, nehéw; cf. fleet and float.

applied to both.' In English dialects, plough or ploro , is still used in the general sense of waggon or conveyance.

We might follow the offshoots of this root ar still further, but the number of words which we have examined in various languages will suffice to show what is meant by a predicative root. In all these words ar is the radical element, all the rest is merely formative. The root ar is called a predicative root because in whatever composition it enters, it predicates one and the same conception, whether of the plough, or the rudder, or the ox, or the field. Even in such a word as artistic, the predicative power of the root ar may still be perceived, though, of course, as it were by means of a powerful telescope only. The Brahmans who called themselves arya in India, were no more aware of the real origin of this name and its connection with agricultural labor, than the artist who now speaks of his art as a divine inspiration suspects that the word which he uses was originally applicable only to so primitive an art as that of ploughing.

We shall now examine another family of words, in order to see by what process the radical elements of words were first discovered.

Let us take the word respectable. It is a word of Latin not of Saxon, origin, as we see by the termina

1 Other similes: Úvis, and űvvis, ploughshare, derived by Plutarch from ús, boar. A plough is said to be called a pigsnose. The Latin porca, a ploughed field, is derived from porcus, hog; and the German furicha, furrow, is connected with farah, boar. The Sanskrit orika, wolf, from vrasch, to tear, is used for plough, Rv. i. 117, 21. Godarana, earth-tearer, is another word for plough in Sanskrit. Gothic hoha, plough=Sk. koka, wolf. See Grimm, Deutsche Sprache, and Kuhn, Indische Studien, vol. i. P.

321. 2 In the Vale of Blackmore, a waggon is called plough, or plow, and zult (A.-S. syl) is used for aratrum (Barnes, Dorset Dialect, p. 369).

tion able. In respectabilis we easily distinguish the verb respectare and the termination bilis. We then separate the prefix re, which leaves spectare, and we trace spectare as a participial formation back to the Latin verb spicere or specere, meaning to see, to look. In

specere, again, we distinguish between the changeable termination ere and the unchangeable remnant spec, which we call the root. This root we expect to find in Sanskrit and the other Aryan languages; and so we do. In Sanskrit the more usual form is paś, to see, without the 8; but spas also is found in spaša, a spy, in spashta (in vi-spashta), clear, manifest, and in the Vedic spas, a guardian. In the Teutonic family we find spëhôn in Old High-German meaning to look, to spy, to contemplate; and spöha, the English spy. In Greek, the root spek has been changed into skep, which exists in skeptomai, I look, I examine; from whence skeptikos, an examiner or inquirer, in theological language, a sceptic; and episkopos, an overseer, a bishop. Let us now examine the various ramifications of this root. Beginning with respectable, we found that it originally meant a person who deserves respect, respect meaning looking back. We pass by common objects or persons without noticing them, whereas we turn back to look again at those which deserve our admiration, our regard, our respect. This was the original meaning of respect and respectable, nor need we be surprised at this if we consider that noble, nobilis in Latin, conveyed originally no more than the idea of a person that deserves to be known; for nobilis stands for gnobilis, just as nomen stands for gnomen, or natus for gnatus.

? Pott, Etymologische Forschungen, p. 267; Benfey, Griechisches Wur zelwörterbuch, p. 236.


“ With respect to

" has now become almost a mere preposition. For if we say, “With respect to this point I have no more to say,” this is the same as “I have no more to say on this point.”

Again, as in looking back we single out a person, the adjective respective, and the adverb respectively, are used almost in the same sense as special, or singly.

The English respite is the Norman modification of respectus, the French répit. Répit meant originally - looking back, reviewing the whole evidence. A crim

inal received so many days ad respectum, to re-examine the case. Afterwards it was said that the prisoner had received a respit, that is to say, had obtained a re

examination; and at last a verb was formed, and it was 7 said that a person had been respited.

As specere, to see, with the preposition re, came to mean respect, so with the preposition de, down, it forms the Latin despicere, meaning to look down, the English despise. The French dépit (Old French despit) means no longer contempt, though it is the Latin despectus, but rather anger, vexation. Se dépiter is to be vexed, to fret. “En dépit de luiis originally “ angry with him,” then“ in spite of him ;” and the English spite, in spite of, spiteful, are mere abbreviations of despite, in despite of, despiteful, and have nothing whatever to do with the spitting of cats.

As de means down from above, so sub means up from below, and this added to specere, to look, gives us suspicere, suspicari, to look up, in the sense of to suspect. From it suspicion, suspicious ; and likewise the French

1 The Greek úgódpa, askance, is derived from Únd, and dpa, which is connected with dépkoual, I see; the Sanskrit, drić.

« PreviousContinue »