In the Old Slavonic there is only one meaning of the word рѣчь (rech') "speech" but in the Polish there are two meanings "speech" and "thing".

In my opinion, the second meaning of the Polish word inherired since the beginning of the 1569 year, when the Rzeczpospolita was established, and only by analogy with latin rēs "thing" + pūblica.

Is it acceptable to argue, that the latin word "rēs" also has the "speech" meaning and that the latin word "rēx" also means the man, who has a right "to speak" (has a voice in) or that man to whose speak all other people are to obey.

In accordance to bible, the God is a Word (speech) and there is none good (well) but one, that is, God.

Jn 1:1:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"

Mt 19:17:

"there is none good but one, that is, God"


2 Answers 2


First of all, it's worth noting that the words rēx and rēs are unrelated: rēx goes back to PIE *h₃reǵs "king" from *h₃r-ǵ- "just" (compare rectus, rogō, rēgula), while rēs goes back to PIE *reh₁is "goods" from *r-h₁y- (compare Sanskrit raí "property").

Rēs is a very general-purpose word, so I wouldn't be surprised to hear it applied to speech. Its basic meaning is "thing" but it's also applied to everything from a system of government to a historical narrative to the current state of reality. In an expression like rem hanc dixit "she said this thing" it would clearly mean a statement or utterance.

I would also often translate rēs into Greek as lógos, literally "word", which is the same word used in the Gospel of John. However, in the phrase rēspublica it's definitely not referring to an act of speaking: there it has the meaning of "political system", same as in rēs nova "revolution". Rēs itself never reached Polish on its own (rēspublica was borrowed as a single unit), so if its descendant means "speech" in Polish it's a coincidence.

Rēx, on the other hand, seems to have no meanings that don't pertain to rulership. It means "king" all the way back as far as we can reconstruct into PIE, never with any meaning related to speech. King, tyrant, (metaphorically) high priest, ruling over something, master, lord, but never "one who speaks" or anything like that.

P.S. All of this is concerned with Classical Latin rather than Church Latin; in Christianity, words like verbum are almost always used instead of rēs to refer to speech. Similarly, rēx in Christianity always has the literal meaning of "king": see 1 Timothy 6:15's rēx rēgum, "king of kings". So it's safe to say the Bible had little to no impact on either of these words referring to speaking.

  • Does Greek ῥῆμα have any relation to res? It seems the most obvious parallel to me, and I believe it has the same thing/word range of meaning.
    – brianpck
    Commented May 2, 2019 at 1:16
  • 5
    @brianpck Ooh, interesting thought! Seems not, though. As best I can tell, rēma is a -ma noun from eirō "to say", which used to have a digamma in front of it, so its Latin cognate would be verbum.
    – Draconis
    Commented May 2, 2019 at 2:36
  • Is it rex regium or rex regum?
    – egreg
    Commented May 22, 2019 at 17:15
  • 1
    Well, an ngram search on English literature shows no trace of rex regium, similarly for other corpora.
    – egreg
    Commented May 22, 2019 at 17:25
  • 1
    @vectory An etymological connection somewhere between rex and oro isn't impossible, but enough Classical Latin literature survives that we can be quite confident about what the words meant by that time. We can also say quite confidently that there are many clear descendants of *h₃rēǵs meaning "king" in disparate branches of IE, and no clear descendants meaning "speaker". Whether the different PIE roots are connected may be an open question, but what those roots' descendants mean generally is not.
    – Draconis
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 17:39

To back him up, it should also be noted that the original Greek of John 1:1 goes like:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.
En arche en ho Logos, kai ho Logos en pros ton Theōn, kai Theos en ho Logos.

and 1 Tim 6:15 goes like:

ἣν καιροῖς ἰδίοις δείξει ὁ μακάριος καὶ μόνος δυνάστης, ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων καὶ κύριος τῶν κυριευόντων,
hen kairois idiois deixei ho Makarios kai monos dunastos, ho basileus ton basileuonton kai kurios ton kurieuonton,

These words in their original (here boldened) language clearly have no relation.

  • Just so I am clear, Koine ο is rounder than ω, and η is wider, closer to a Latin ē, than ε, which is more short, right? Commented May 22, 2019 at 19:22
  • In classical Attic, ω η are long and fairly open, ο ε are short and fairly closed, ου ει are long and fairly closed. In Koine, I believe the height distinction had already vanished, so all that was left was ω η long vs ο ε short (and ου ει fully raised).
    – Draconis
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 5:29
  • 1
    You seem to have gotten the macrons the other way around - they indicate length, not vowel closeness, so ο is transcribed as o, ω as ō, ε as e and η as ē. There might be some long alphas, iotas and ypsilons in there - for these a dictionary should be consulted. Commented May 28, 2019 at 14:25

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