of words; see sparse
). The -r- began to drop out in Late West Saxon and was gone by mid-12c., perhaps from infl. of Dan. spage "crackle," in a slang sense of "speak" (cf. crack
in slang senses having to do with speech, e.g. wisecrack, cracker, all it's cracked up to be). Rare variant forms without -r- also are found in M.Du. (speken) and O.H.G. (spehhan). Not the primary word for "to speak" in O.E. ("Beowulf" prefers maþelian, from mæþel "assembly, council," from root of metan "to meet;" cf. Gk. agoreuo "to speak," originally "speak in the assembly," from agora "assembly").