Monday, March 19, 2007

Specious

I don't know that this word inspires me any more than any of the other insipid words from DD. Specious' Latin origins mean "to look at" (from "specere"), but that evolved to "appearance". So there is a definite shift from the act of the viewer to the condition of the one being viewed, which is both a perspective and a part of speech shift. I can overlook the latter, but the idea that the etymology was basically to gawk, and then it became how credible was the thing being viewed, seems specious all by itself. And then to further complicate matters, specious takes on a secondary usage meaning of "deceptively pleasing or fair", which actually is more in line with its etymology, than it current popular meaning. As usual, it would seem that the popular usage derived from an older, and therefore, secondary or less popular now, the latter of which is ironically, more accurate. From deceptively pleasing, we get just deceptive. I will note, however, that all usage examples provided only relate to abstractions, and not to the animate or inanimate. So, a specious visage belied of cosmetic surgery would not be appropriate, although it might be funny and perhaps even hyper-accurate. Nor would a designer's specious decorating style or DD's specious word choices for wotd. It most frequently gets used as the phrase "specious argument", and I will admit that I have used this phrase on more than one occasion in oral argument to describe Plaintiff's counsel's reasoning. I'll discuss later the distinction between specious and disingenuous, which is another word I frequently use to describe Plaintiff's counsel's reasoning. For now, though, I'll just stick with his specious experience as a seasoned trial advocate, was debunked at trial by her sustained objection for lack of foundation to a his admission of a business record.

1 comment:

Jordyne said...

Great word-- so much more colorful than "fallacious" or "erroneous" argument, logic, claim... the connotation of superficially right or pleasing adds that much more depth...