Legere/Legein: To Gather

Pre-historically, interpersonal vocal communication arose within the original hunters/gatherers to facilitate survival. The vocalizations reflected the nature of the activity to enhance its productivity. Sounds were both pro-active and re-active. The latter were communal sounds to indicate outside threats, a process that extended to the domestication of wolves as an early warning system of approaching danger. Often, vocalization echoed (onomatopoeia) the natural sound, e.g., piss.

As initial words became commonly used, other related words were derived from the original words to reflect new and needed distinctions, e.g., pro-active pronouncements promoted proficient procured product processing. Importantly, considering the existential meltdown of humanity, languages arose from and for the work of survival, not the play of waste.

That nebulous, ubiquitous Indo-European root language did not arise in one spot for dissemination to other branches of mankind. This is like thinking one root group arose from which others learned that for urination men would stand and women would squat. In word and deed, form followed function when civilization was less capable of hidden agendas.

In Western languages derived from Latin, one of the most significant, if not the most significant is the word group for "gathering," Legere/Legein. As humanity walked down history's expanding canyons of new experiences, rootword relatives echoed off the canyon walls. A pivotal step was the development of the gathering society that collected legumes around one's legs which increased survival time for each lifehour of worktime. Sound travels faster than any wolf, lion, or bear with common sounds serving to save the fittest for production and reproduction. The semantic descendants, siblings, and in-laws of legein/legere reflect the gathering of time in the necessities of life. As calculus derives a trend or pattern from an underlying activity so are semantic derivations based on the underlying experience. The math is similar and common.

The following italicized words--appropriate for an essay on words originating in Italy southeast of Rome--have the common ancestral genetic pair of legere/legein. The double L/L derives from an older Mediterraneum society, Greece.

  1. Morality:
    1. Cementing the self-similarity of form following function is the institution wherein people seek to re-gain, re-bind or re-gather their moral bearings for more time: re-ligion.
    2. God-knowers were theologians.
    3. Violating a re-gathering is a sacrilege.
  2. Politeness
    1. Usually, the leading gatherer became the legate who legislated or delegated the legalities of logic. The best gatherers usually formed an association for mutual benefit, a league. Dead leaders were mourned in elegies or eulogies.
    2. When we gather and pick our eligible officials, we have elections. The best of us are the elite who often choose a symbollic, representative logo. Political parties gather planks for platforms of ideologies. Leaders deligate gathering duties.
    3. The original encoding of laws into stone or clay was calligraphy, which were called a lex or leges(pl).
    4. Accounts of illegalities are allegations though if false one was due an apology.
    5. A gathering of nations to promote international peace was called a League of Nations.
    6. When politicians use the public law process to pass private laws for a few, we suffer from hereditary privileges. Repeated de-privileging of those who do the actual legwork results in the revolting underprivileged with legitimate complaints. The handwriting on the wall is legible to honest, moral minds. Corrupt politicians are legal belligerents.
      Echoing self-similarity in another word group, "When politicians make good policy then the polity in the polis will be polite without police.")

    7. Political rule limited to a few is an oligarchy.
    8. As the cellular incorporation of organelles increased the productivity of the cell in a symbiotic relationship (thus increasing the survival/time of the symbiosis) so did the introduction of legal descriptions of logic increase the survival/time of the society. Problems could be prevented by lecturing the codified logic as well as swift, consistent punishment of the illegal illogical ignoramuses. Laws are units of time, more specifically, catalysts, enzymes and mitochrondria, if the legal laws are for public rather than private survival. Corrupt habitual politicians are cancers rather than catalysts to more time for the polity in the polis. Allegiance to lieges who are not logical is morally illegitimate regardless of the corrupt written legal laws.
  3. Ecos nomos:
    1. A locality's most logical gatherer of legumes was not only a legend but left a legacy. Successful gatherers are diligent. Picky gatherers were selective or eclectic.
    2. A big gathering was a large harvest which allowed one to offer largess to others. The lay of the land from which one gathered was the topology.
    3. One referred to one's fellow gatherers as colleagues. One gathered one's family and friends in one's lodge, or, one lodged one's gatherings or one's complaints.
    4. To warm one's lodgings, one would gather wood (lignum) or soft brown coal with traces of wood (lignite). Often, one had to cut up the gathered logs while logging.
    5. Accounts of gatherings are ledgers. Our gathering of supplies, events or knowledge was logged on papyrus, in scrolls or in books. This management of the gathered supplies was logistics.
    6. Historically, an important tool with semantic similarity to legere arose simultaneously within those few cultures that transited from nomadic hunter/gathers to settled farmers of legumes: Language, from lingua for tongue with which we taste our gathered food. As noted previously, one communicated one's legein with letters and literacy. The first instances of written communication were not love letters but accounts of harvests gathered, stored or transported, to wit, "This is my legein symbolised in letters in this letter."
    7. Borrowing the gatherings of another incurs an obligation.
    8. Backlog: Obligated gatherings yet to be collected.
    9. Those who fall below the norm or who neglect gathering are negligent or malignant worth relegation to less largesse
  4. Mentality:
    1. One's raw ability to gather information is one's intellect. Those who "know gathering" best have "know-ledge." Careful gathers are diligent.One approves or acknowledges the knowers.
    2. What does one say of the moral people who understand gathering best? Intel-ligent. Legerity describes a quick-minded person who gathers his wits.
    3. A collection or common gathering of the intelligent to share knowledge is a college, many of whom (unlike this writer) were elegant in their tools and descriptions with letters and literacy. One listed one's gatherings in a catalog.
    4. When we publicly share our gathered information, it is a lecture which for the listeners is a lesson. We speak in different dialects. Privately exchanging one's gathered thoughts is a dialog. Mental masturbators are monologers.
    5. Anthology describes a gathering of writings that have something in common. The introduction is a prologue with the ending being the epilogue.
    6. Accounts of incompleteness or perspectives are allegories or analogies. Gathering ideals together is a syllogism.
    7. Nasty personalities are belligerent. Things that harm gathering in a contagious manner are malignant.
    8. Timism neologism extends the exploration into the canyons of human experience. However, verbal diarrhea is logorrhea.
  5. Catan: Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, I'd rather decline Roman wine than decline a Latin verb. A parallel and/or source of many Latin "leggers" is the Greek log. Some Greek cousins of legere, "log", have been included without clogging the reader with all the "knowledge of" compound words, e.g., audiology, biology, cardiology ... zoology. The log of log words is a family tree of semantic cousins once-removed of "gathering."

Literally reflecting its origin, gathering of necessities is the bedrock economics and politics for survival. A nation that gathers soccerballs, footballs, baseballs, basketballs, golfballs and goofballs, however, does not gather future survival.

One could argue that the basis and continuity of Roman Law throughout European nations was maintained long-after the decline and fall of the Roman Empire by the semantic cement of this one word and its descendents.

In summary, when the elected lecture and legislate good legalities, the locals in the localities will be elite without litigation. Said another way, when politicians make good policies then the polity in the polis will be polite without police. Time-shaping is the number one effect of those with the power to change human behavior: government, business, media, academia and parenting. When a nation is going in the wrong direction, those at the top are losers not leaders, cancers not creators.

As indicated by the proliferation of legere/legein semantic descendants, the role of the best gatherers in becoming elected is paralleled in the development of Greek politics. When Solon in the Sixth Century Greece, B.C., imposed a new government on Athens, he established four levels of rights based on one's annual production of food. If one produced over 500 bushels, one could be a general because one was considered more valuable and honorable, that is, more productive. Based on the basic currency in Japan at the time (the number of bushels--four--to feed a person for a year), the 500 bushels would feed about 125 people.

At about the same time in Rome, Servius Tullius, its sixth king, instituted a similar system for civic rights and duties based on a census that divided the populace into five levels or classes. Servius also initiated Rome's monetary system based on units of measured agricultural produce. The Roman republic was based on a democracy limited primarily to land-owning farmers, more precisely, the res pubers.

Importantly for this timistic writer, the Greek word for value, honor and price--referenced in a prior paragraph as the levels of economic achievement and political options--described this veritable meritocracy: time, or a timocracy. Incidentally or coincidentally, this parallel reinforces this writer's belief that time is the jigsaw pattern for existence out of which humanity has manufactured many puzzles that differ in the thin surface veneer of vocabulary, culture, greed, and insecurities. Time is the thread in the fabric of life.

For an alphabetic listing of 80 or more derivatives of legere/legein, see Best Government.


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