Words that start with the prefix re or pro
Respice prospice, (Latin: look backwards look forwards, pr: respicky prospicky) was the motto of my school, Ayr Academy. The school was founded in 1233 and moved to its present location in Fort Street in 1800. Seven hundred and seventy seven years provides plenty material on which to look back, but what I'm remembering today is that motto, and the school song, also called Respice Prospice. A strange song, it is an arranged marriage between not a bad poem and not a bad tune, each hopelessly unsuited to the other. But enough of that.
Today, in a quirky tribute to my Latin and English teachers and in the spirit of art for art's sake, I'm pleased to invite you to join me in an aimless ramble through a few more word pairs that use the re & pro prefixes.
Progress - to go forward. How much more optimistic, even the sound of progress. How much more natural. It's what every child wants, new skills, new strength, new courage. It is the soul of true education. Progress is nothing less than the intuitive life force of individuals, societies, nations, humanity. Stasis stultifies. Regress, as we've seen, is not an option. We're moving on!
Regress - to go back. One of the saddest words in the language, tinged with the sound of regret, and the sense of mission incomplete, of failure. For backwards is the path that is always closed to us. We can't unbomb Iraq; we can't even unboil an egg. Be not swayed by those who would turn the clock back. Their golden time, if it ever existed, is gone, just as 'the snows of yesteryear' will not return.
Regress and progress strain in a tug-of-war relationship with each other, action and reaction, yin & yang. But some re & pro pairs are less simply related, for example:
Prospect - a looking forward. Always an exciting concept, because of the built in uncertainty. The prospect drives the project. The prospect is the imagination, the invention, the future. The project is the grunt-work. The realisation, Project, of course, is itself a pro word, literally a throwing forward, with its opposite, reject, a throwing back. Return to sender, address unknown...
Respect is such a 'whole word' in its own right, that we might barely notice that it is made of two parts, the same two parts as our original respice, in fact. For what is respect but a looking back (or again) over a life, giving credit for achievement, effort, perhaps even endurance? Respect then becomes a valuing of life's journey, in view of which its antithesis, disrespect, is the badge of the superficial.
That song again
When the notion takes me, I'll maybe expand on a few more re & pro pairs. In the meantime, I have a burning urge to see if I can remember all the words of the old school song:
Respice, prospice. Backwards our thoughts go
To years that are hid in the mists of the past.
The school by the Ayr and the wind driven sand dunes,
Our Scots youth have thronged from the first to the last.
Celtic and Saxon, Pictish and Norman
Have mingled the strain that has made us today
Courage they gave us, enduring endeavour
Strong wills to brace us in work and in play
Floruit semper, Academia!
Prospice, respice. Forwards our thoughts go
To what God shall send us in long years to be
In homeland or far land, young now no longer
Questing glad venture on land and at sea.
Age cannot stale thee, nor years ever rob us
Of memories stored in the noontide of youth
Still may our thoughts of thee, on to life's ending
Keep our feet steadfast in hope, love and truth.
Floreat semper, Academia!
That would seem to be all of it, give or take the odd punctuation mark. They must have drummed it well into me, half a century ago. But I think I've quested enough glad venture for one day.
Thank you for reading!
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