PROBITY

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Dr. Goodword
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PROBITY

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:49 pm

• probity •

Pronunciation: pro-bê-tee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: Total honesty, integrity and virtue, uprightness, high moral character.

Notes: Probity pretty much stands alone as a lexical orphan though, as the History will show, it has distant cousins in prove and its family. Probity has a meaning similar to honesty and uprightness but in a more pristine sense. Honesty and uprightness may be more or less but probity is both these in their purest form.

In Play: Another way of defining today's Good Word would be to say that it means "no messing around": "Sarah Soda's drabness and the advanced years of Jerry Attrick guaranteed the probity of their late night dinners together." It is not always easy to distinguish probity from the appearance of probity: "Looking for a needle in a haystack is like looking for probity on Wall Street."

Word History: English borrowed probity, like so many other words from French. French (Latin as spoken in France today) inherited the word from Latin probitas "uprightness, honesty", a noun based on the adjective probus "worthy, good". Probus went into the making of probare "to prove worthy, to test". This verb ended up in Old French as prover, which English also borrowed as prove. While raising its debt level to Latin and the Romance languages, English also borrowed probare directly from Latin as probe. Where did probus itself come from? It goes back to a pre-Latin Proto-Indo-European derived word pro-bhwo- "being up front", made up of pro "in front of" + bhwo- "to be", the source of English be. (Let us not show a lack of probity by forgetting to thank Joyce Rhode for suggesting today's Good Word.)
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LukeJavan8
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:50 pm

I find it very interesting that you say French is Latin
as spoken in France today. It is a Romance language,
true, and a descendant of Latin, but to call it that is
quite a statement that I have never seen before.
Very interesting. Would you say the same concerning
Romanian, Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese?
(or Provencal, Catalan, etc.)
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Adjective Form of Probity?

Postby baker_kwc » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:51 pm

Does "probity" have an adjective form? My first thought was "probitive", but my spell-checker assumed I meant "probative", which is not what I'm looking for. I've found several news articles and web sites that use the word "probitous" and several that use the word "probitious", but I'm not sure which (if either) is more correct.

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Postby sluggo » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:23 pm

LukeJavan8 wrote:I find it very interesting that you say French is Latin
as spoken in France today. It is a Romance language,
true, and a descendant of Latin, but to call it that is
quite a statement that I have never seen before.
Very interesting. Would you say the same concerning
Romanian, Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese?
(or Provençal, Catalan, etc.)
Sure, since that's where it came from. And let's not leave out Romanshe :)

I think I mused on this elsewhere here, but it's said that the nasal qualities of French and Portuguese are imparted from the pre-existing Celtic languages (far western Europe being the last outpost of the Celts). In northwestern Spain (Galícia) the local Spanish sounds almost more like Portuguese. And French still shares the Celtic vigesimal approach to the number 80 (quatre-vingt, four-twenties), (although a direct Celtic derivation is not universally accepted, Basque being also suggested as a source). Thus vulgar Latin took on at least some of the local clothes of those tongues it replaced in each area.
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LukeJavan8
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:11 pm

The whole concept is totally fascinating to me.
The way the languages isolated themselves in Middle
Ages Europe, and still retain relationships to each other
today. I read somewhere Sanskrit is the oldest PIE
Language, and I suppose its grandchildren and great
grandchildren are similar.

Is there a 'flow chart' or 'geneological tree' of PIE
existant somewhere??
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