Reflexes of the Proto-Indo-European root *tem in Greek
As we have seen, the Proto-Indo-European root *tem‑, meaning ‘to cut’, was passed on to Greek, and it has two different allomorphs (variants) in this language: ‑τομ‑ (‑tom‑) of ‑τέμ‑ (‑tem‑). We have seen some of the words that have this root, including the verb τέμνειν (témnein) ‘to cut’ and the verb derived from it by prefixation ἐντέμνειν (entémnein) ‘to cut in’. A word derived from the verb τέμνειν (témnein) is the noun τόμος (tómos), which came to be primarily a noun meaning ‘slice, piece, cut’. The root of the word τόμος (tóm‑os) is also found in the New Latin word from which come Eng. tomography ~ Sp. tomografía, the name for ‘a technique for displaying a cross section through a human body or other solid object using X-rays or ultrasound’ (COED) (tom-o-graphy). This word was , coined in 1935 and has become a truly international word, having been borrowed by languages such as Russian томогра́фия (tomográfija) and Japanese トモグラフィー (tomogurafī).
We saw that the word τόμος (tómos) with the prefix ἔν‑ (én) resulted in the Greek adjective ἔντομος (én‑tom‑os) ‘cut into pieces’. With a different prefix, negative prefix ἀ- (a-) ‘not’, we get the adjective ἄτομος (á‑tom‑os) ‘uncut, indivisible’. The neuter form of this adjective was ἄτομον (átomon), which could be used as a noun in Greek meaning ‘indivisible part’. From this word come Eng. atom [ˈæ.ɾəm] ~ Sp. átomo [ˈa.t̪o.mo]. Actually, these cognates do not come directly from Greek, but through Latin for the adjective ἄτομος was borrowed into Latin as atŏmus, which could be either an adjective meaning ‘indivisible’ or a noun meaning ‘atom’ or ‘particle incapable of being divided’, as used in Greek philosophy. The word ἄτομον (átomon) was used by Ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher Democritus (Gk. Δημόκριτος, Dēmókritos) to refer to indivisible parts of nature in his philosophy. The term was revived in the early 19th century when scientists came to the realization that nature is indeed composed of atoms. A modern atom is ‘the smallest particle of a chemical element, consisting of a positively charged nucleus (containing protons and typically also neutrons) surrounded by negatively charged electrons’ (COED).
In addition to meaning ‘section’, Greek τόμος (tómos) also came to mean ‘roll of papyrus’, perhaps because of it being a section of a larger written work. This word was borrowed into Latin as tŏmus meaning ‘a cut, a piece’, as well as ‘a roll of paper’ and, eventually, ‘a part, book, tome of a larger written work’. This Latin word was borrowed into English and Spanish with that last meaning, ‘one of the books in a work of several volumes’ (AHD), giving us Eng. tome (early 16th century) ~ Sp. tomo. The meaning of Eng. tome has diverged somewhat from its original meaning since it has come to mean ‘a book, especially a large, scholarly one’ (COED) or ‘a large heavy book’ (DOCE) and this word is used mostly humorously. On the other hand, Sp. tomo still has the original meaning of ‘volume of a large written work’, as in La Enciclopedia Británica consta de veinte tomos ‘The Encyclopædia Britannica contains twenty volumes’. Thus, these two words, although obviously historically related (cognates) and related in meaning, cannot be said to be good friends.
Another pair of words that contain this Greek root ‑τομ‑ (‑tom‑) are Eng. epitome [ə.ˈpʰɪ.ɾə.mi] ~ Sp. epítome [e.ˈpi.t̪o.me]. These words come from Latin (nominative) ĕpĭtŏmē or ĕpĭtŏma, meaning ‘an abridgement, summary’, a loanword from Ancient Greek ἐπιτομή (epitomḗ), with the same meaning. Originally, this Greek word meant ‘surface-incision’ since it is derived from the verb ἐπῐτέμνειν ‘to cut upon the surface, make an incision’ and, from there, ‘to cut short, abridge’. This verb was formed from the same basic verb τέμνειν (témnein) ‘to cut, separate, etc.’, with the added prefix ἐπί (epí) ‘upon’.
Eng. epitome [ə.ˈpʰɪ.ɾə.mi] ~ Sp. epítome [e.ˈpi.t̪o.me] are rather fancy words and they are also not very good friends. Eng. epitome can still mean ‘a summary of a written work’ (COED), but that meaning is quite rare. Its main meaning of Eng. epitome is ‘a representative or example of a class or type’ (COED), as in Roses are the epitome of romance. Sp. epítome, on the other hand, does not have this derived, primary meaning that Eng. epitome has. Besides ‘summary’, a rare meaning for the word, the other major meaning of Sp. epitome is the name of a rhetorical figure of speech which consists of repeating the first words of a long series of words to add clarity to what has been said. Thus, this is another pair of words that are barely good friends nowadays, despite their common origin and despite sharing a sense, ‘summary or abridgement’, one that is very minor in both languages.
The cognates Eng. anatomy ~ Sp. anatomía refer nowadays to ‘the branch of biology and medicine concerned with bodily structure, especially as revealed by dissection’ and, derived from that sense, to ‘the bodily structure of an organism’ (COED). These words are loanwords from Late Latin anatomia, which is itself a loanword from an unattested Ancient Greek *ἀνατομία (anatomía). This Greek word itself is derived, by means of the suffix ‑ία (‑ia), that created abstract nouns, from the noun ἀνατομή (anatomḗ), that meant ‘dissection’. This noun was derived from the root of the verb τέμνειν (témnein) ‘to cut, etc.’ with the prefix ἀνά (aná) ‘up’ (cf. Eng. to cut up).
The cognate nouns Eng. dichotomy [daɪ̯.ˈkɒ.ɾə.mi] ~ Sp. dicotomía [d̪i.ko.t̪o.ˈmi.a] also ultimately contain the Greek root ‑tom‑. The meaning of these words is ‘a division or contrast between two things that are opposed or entirely different’ (COED). These two words were borrowed directly from Ancient Greek διχοτοµία (dikh‑o‑tom‑ía) ‘a cutting in two, in half; a division in two parts’. This noun is derived from the adjective δῐχότομος (dikhótomos) ‘cut in half, equally divided’, formed from The word was borrowed by English in the early 17th century, around the year 1600. Sp. dicotomía is first attested in the early 18th century.
The second part of this word, ‑tomia, is the same as that of the word anatomia that we just saw. The first part comes from the root of διχῆ (dikh‑ê) ‘in two, apart, asunder’. The Greek noun διχοτοµία (dikhotomía) is derived from the attested adjective διχότοµος (dikhótomos) ‘halved, cut in half’. From this adjective come the cognate adjectives Eng. dichotomous ~ Sp. dicótomo/a, which mean ‘divided or dividing into two parts’ or ‘of or pertaining to dichotomy’ (RHWU). They are not as common as the noun that they derive from.
Finally, the cognate suffixoids Eng. ‑tomy (‑tom-y) ~ Sp. ‑tomía (‑tom-ía) have been adopted in medicine, combined with names of body parts, to express ‘cutting, incision’, especially as part of surgery into such body parts. This type of borrowed ending is known as a suffixoid (Sp. sufijoide), that is, ‘a word-final segment that has characteristics of both a free morpheme and a bound morpheme’ (WP) (cf. Part I, Chapter 5, §5.11). Let us look at five of the most common or easily recognizable terms created with the suffixoid ‑tomy.
Eng. lobotomy [lə.ˈbɒ.ɾə.mi] ~ Sp. lobotomía [lo.βo.t̪o.ˈmi.a] mean ‘surgical severance of nerve fibers connecting the frontal lobes to the thalamus performed especially formerly for the relief of some mental disorders’ (MWC). These words come from New Latin lobotomia (lob‑o‑tom‑ia, where ‑o‑ is the typical Greek linking vowel) This word is derived from the root lob‑ of the English word lobe, equivalent to Sp. lóbulo, which is ‘a major division of an organ such as the brain, typically rounded in form’ (COED). Eng. lobe can also mean ‘a hanging or projecting part, such as the soft part at the base of the outer ear’ (COED), as in earlobe, Sp. lóbulo de la oreja. Eng. lobe is ultimately a borrowing from Late Latin lobus ‘hull, husk, pod’, from Greek λοβός (lobós), which meant both ‘ear lobe’ and ‘vegetable pod’. Sp. lóbulo, the equivalent of Eng. lobe, with the same two meanings, is a loanword from a Latin diminutive form of lobus, namely lobŭlus (lob-ŭl-us). Sp. lobotomía is a loanword from Eng. lobotomy, or else the Spanish word would have been *lolubotomía.
Eng. laparotomy [ˌlæ.pə.ˈɹɒ.ɾə.mi] ~ Sp. laparotomía [la.pa.ɾo.t̪o.ˈmi.a] refers to ‘a surgical incision into the abdominal cavity, for diagnosis or in preparation for major surgery’, COED). It is derived from the Greek word λαπάρα (lapára) ‘flank’, formed with the root lapar‑ and the linking vowel ‑o‑ (lapar‑o‑tomy). There are other words that contain the prefixoid lapar‑ in English and Spanish, with the meaning ‘abdominal (wall)’, such as Eng. laparoscope [ˈlæ.pə.ɹə.ˌskoʊ̯p] ~ Sp. laparoscopio, ‘an instrument used for examining the abdomen’ (SOED).
Eng. lithotomy [lɪ.ˈθɒ.ɾə.mi] ~ Sp. litotomía [li.t̪o.t̪o.ˈmi.a]: ‘surgical removal of a calculus (stone) from the bladder, kidney, or urinary tract’ (COED). The root of this word is lith‑, which comes from New Latin lithos, a borrowing from Ancient Greek λῐ́θος (líthos) ‘stone’. In both English and Spanish, the stem Eng. lith‑o‑ ~ Sp. lit-o‑ is used in technical terms with the meaning ‘stone’. Other examples of the use of this root are the following: Eng. lithosphere (1881) ~ Sp. litosfera, which in geology refers to ‘the rigid outer part of the earth, consisting of the crust and upper mantle’ (COED); Eng. lithophagous ~ Sp. litófago ‘stone eating’, said for instance of some mollusks; Eng. lithograph [ˈlɪ.θə.ɡɹæf] ~ Sp. litografía, ‘a print produced by lithography’, that is, by ‘the process of printing from a flat metal (formerly stone) surface treated so as to repel the ink except where it is required for printing’ (COED).
The cognates Eng. phlebotomy ~ Sp. flebotomía are fancy words for bloodletting, since it literally means ‘vein cutting’. That is, these words refer to ‘the surgical opening or puncture of a vein to withdraw blood or introduce a fluid’ (COED). These words come from Late Lat. phlebotomia, whose first part comes from the regular (combining) root ϕλεβ‑ (phleb‑) of Ancient Greek φλέψ (phléps) ‘vein’. This prefixoid Eng. phleb‑ ~ Sp. fleb‑ is also found in other cognate medical terms, such as Eng. phlebitis~ Sp. flebitis, ‘inflammation of the walls of a vein’ (COED). The popular word for medical bloodletting in Spanish is sangría, a word derived from the noun sangre ‘blood’. The Spanish word sangría also came to be used for ‘an iced drink, typically made with red wine, sugar, fruit juice, soda water, and spices, and containing fruit slices’ (RHWU), and this word was borrowed into English in the early 1960s.
The cognates Eng. tracheotomy ~ Sp. traqueotomía refer to ‘an incision in the windpipe made to relieve an obstruction to breathing’ (COED). The first part of these words is related to the cognates Eng. trachea [ˈtʰɹeɪ̯.ki.ə] or [trə.ˈki.ə] ~ Sp. tráquea [ˈtɾa.ke.a], meaning ‘windpipe’. Both of these words come from Medieval Medical Latin trāchēa (1255), from Late Latin trāchīa (c. 400), from Ancient Greek τρᾱχεῖα (tracheía), feminine form of the adjective τρᾱχύς (trachýs) ‘rough’. That is because this word was the product of an ellipsis of the Ancient Greek phrase ἀρτηρία τρᾱχεῖα (artēríā tracheía) ‘rough artery’, which was the name given to the windpipe.
There is an expanded version of the suffixoid ‑tomy, namely ‑ectomy, which contains the morpheme ‑εκ‑ (‑ec‑) ‘out’. In other words, whereas ‑tomy stands for ‘cutting’, ‑ectomy stands for ‘cutting out’ or ‘removing by cutting’. There are at least three pairs of fairly common cognates that contain this suffixoid.
Eng. vasectomy [və.ˈsɛk.tə.mi] ~ Sp. vasectomía [ba.sek.t̪o.ˈmi.a] refer to the ‘surgical removal of all or part of the vas deferens [the main duct through which semen is carried from the epididymis to the ejaculatory duct], usually as a means of sterilization’ (AHD). The Latin term vas deferens is used in English anatomy for this duct. The Latin phrase is also used sometimes in English, though it has been Hispanicized to vaso deferente or even better, conducto deferente, since the regular Spanish word vaso ‘drinking glass’ has a different meaning and comes from a different source. The New Latin phrase vās dēferēns is formed from Lat. vās ‘duct’ and dēferēns ‘that carries away’, present participle of the verb dēferre ‘to carry away’, formed from dē- ‘(away) from’ +and ferre ‘to bear, carry; to suffer’. The prefixoid vas‑o‑ is found in other technical medical terms such as vasoconstriction ~ Sp. vasoconstricción ‘the constriction of blood vessels, which increases blood pressure’ (COED). The cognate adjectives Eng. vascular [ˈvæ.skjʊ.ləɹ] ~ Sp. vascular [bas.ku.ˈlaɾ] come from New Latin vāscŭlāris, an adjective derived from Lat. vāscŭlum, the diminutive form of vās ‘duct’.
Eng. appendicectomy [ˌæp.ən.dɪ.'sɛk.tə.mi] or appendectomy [ˌæp.ən.ˈdɛk.tə.mi] ~ Sp. apendicectomía [a.pen.di.θek.t̪o.ˈmi.a] or apendectomía [a.pen.dek.t̪o.ˈmi.a]. These words refer to the ‘a surgical operation to remove the appendix’ (COED). The appendix, also known as vermiform appendix, is ‘a tube-shaped sac attached to the lower end of the large intestine’ (COED). These words are hybrids of the word appendix (Sp. apéndice) and the suffixoid -ectomy (Sp. ‑ectomía). The cognates Eng. appendix ~ Sp. apéndice are loanwords from Lat. nominative appendix, accusative appendĭcem, meaning ‘that which hangs to any thing, an appendage’ (L&S). This noun is derived from the verb appendĕre ‘to hang something upon something, to suspend’, a verb derived by the prefixation of the prefix ad‑ ‘to’ to the verb pendĕre ‘to hang’ (cf. Sp. pender ‘to hang’, synonym of colgar) (cf. Eng. pend and especially pending and append). By the way, of the two options for each language, the shorter version of the name, appendectomy, is more common in English and the longer one, apendicectomía, is more common in Spanish.
Eng. cholecystectomy [ˈkɒ.lə.sɪs.ˈtʰɛk.tə.mi]~ Sp. colecistectomía refer to the ‘surgical removal of the gall bladder’ These words are formed from each language’s versions of the New Latin word cholecystis ‘gallbladder’ (Sp. vesícula). Eng. cholecyst [ˈkɒ.lə.sɪst] and Sp. colecisto are fancy words in these languages for this ‘membranous muscular sac in which bile from the liver is stored’ (COED). They were borrowed in the mid-19th century from a badly formed, New Latin cholecystis, created from the Greek words χολή (khole) ‘gall’ and κύστις (kystis) ‘bladder, cyst’.
In addition to Eng. cholecystectomy ~ Sp. colecistectomía, there are also related words without the ‑ec‑ part, namely Eng. cholecystotomy [ˈkɒ.lə.sɪs.ˈtʰɒ.ɾə.mi] ~ Sp. colecistotomía or colecistomía. They refer to the opening of the gall-bladder for the purpose of removing gall-stones. In recent times, this surgical procedure is performed by means of a laparoscope (see above), ‘a fibre-optic instrument is inserted through the abdominal wall to view the organs in the abdomen or permit small-scale surgery’ (COED) and, thus, the operation tends to go by the name laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
In some cases, both options are possible, with and without the ‑ec‑ part, without there being any change in the meaning. For example, the term Eng. ovariotomy can be ‘surgical incision into an ovary, as to perform a biopsy or remove a tumor’ (AHD), but it can also be a synonym of ovariectomy ‘surgical removal of one or both ovaries’ (COED), also known as oophorectomy. In Spanish too, ovariotomía is sometimes used as a synonym for ovariectomía.
Go to part 4.