Spanish Etymology, Learning Spanish http://www.spanishetymology.com Learning Spanish & Etymology Pattern-Matching for Nerds Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:11:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Lluvia and Pluvial http://www.spanishetymology.com/lluvia-and-pluvial/ http://www.spanishetymology.com/lluvia-and-pluvial/#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:11:55 +0000 http://www.spanishetymology.com/?p=813 The Spanish lluvia (for “rain”) comes Latin pluvia for the same — a change that may not be obvious because the -pl- of Latin sometimes became a -ll- in Spanish.

From the same root, we get the sophisticated English word pluvial which means… lots of rain!

The ll-v of lluvia clearly maps to the p-l of pluvial.

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Hacerand Fact http://www.spanishetymology.com/hacer-fact/ http://www.spanishetymology.com/hacer-fact/#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 14:59:15 +0000 http://www.fornerds.org/?p=168 The English fact comes from the Latin factum, meaning “something that happened.” It is thus an exact cognate to the Spanish hacer, meaning “to make.” How?

The root of both is the Latin facere, meaning “to do.” Fact, and the Latin factum, is just the same word in a different tense.

The Latin facere turned into the Spanish hacer, although they superficially sound different. Their relation becomes obvious once we remember that Latin words that began with an initial f- almost always turned into an initial h- when Latin evolved into Spanish.

Therefore the f-c-r of facere maps exactly to the h-c-r of hacer.

This pattern explains many words such as hierro/ferrari, hervir/fever, huir/fugitive, hoja/foliage!

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Bailar and Ballroom http://www.spanishetymology.com/bailar-ballroom/ http://www.spanishetymology.com/bailar-ballroom/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 14:51:34 +0000 http://www.fornerds.org/?p=126 Bailar, Spanish meaning “to dance”, is another one of these Spanish words that sounds random and is difficult until you realize its subtle common origin with a bunch of English words.

Bailar comes from the late Latin ballare, meaning the same, “to dance”, originally from the Greek ballizein, meaning, “to dance or jump around”. From this same root, we get a few English words including:

  • Ballroom — Yes, the room where you go dancing!
  • To Have a Ball — Yes, the “ball” in this phrase is the same “ball” as in bailar and ballroom!
  • Ballad — The love song, unsurprisingly, comes from the same root as dancing: perhaps slow dancing!
  • Ballistics — Directly from the Greek, we get the science of having balls shoot around!

No connection to the English “ball” in the sense of the round object you throw.

Have a ball remembering these!

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Pensar, Pesadilla and Pensive, Compensate http://www.spanishetymology.com/pensar-pesadilla-and-pensive-compensate/ http://www.spanishetymology.com/pensar-pesadilla-and-pensive-compensate/#respond Mon, 19 Jun 2017 14:46:05 +0000 http://www.spanishetymology.com/?p=748 The Latin pensare meant “to weigh”, in both senses: “to weigh something, such as gold, to get its value, usually to make a payment” or “to think about something deeply”.

From this word, we get a few Spanish words, including:

  • Pensar – to “think”, just a simplification and lightening of the original.
  • Pesadilla – with the diminutive -dilla ending added, it means “nightmare”. A dream is really just a small thought!

From the same Latin root, we get a few English words including:

  • Pensive – with the same original meaning as the Latin.
  • Compensate – which originally meant, “to counterbalance”, precisely what you do with a balance of justice!
  • Pansy – which is basically an insult for someone who spends too much time thinking!
  • Span – which originally meant to bind, and came from the original sense of weighing.
  • Poise – originally meant, “to have a certain weight,” which then came to mean “to have a certain look”.

The p-n-s root (sometimes without the ‘n’) is visible in all words.

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Cinco – Five http://www.spanishetymology.com/cinco-five/ http://www.spanishetymology.com/cinco-five/#respond Sun, 18 Jun 2017 14:40:01 +0000 http://www.fornerds.org/?p=153 The relation between “five” in Spanish (cinco) and English is one of the more surprising relationships: they are indeed direct second cousins!

Both come from the same Proto-Indo-European root, *penkwe, meaning the same, five. (The greek for five also comes from the same: think about pentagon, for example).

The interesting part is this: the p- sound in Proto-Indo-European evolved into the Germanic and then English f- sound. Think about father and padre, for example or foot and pie. Five and cinco follow this pattern too, but in a more subtle way.

The Proto-Indo-European for the same, *penkwe, evolved into the Latin word for “five”: quinque. The qu- was pronounced in a hard way like a k- and then, as Latin evolved into Spanish, the k- was softened into the soft c- in cinco. So p- to k- to c-. You can see it through the similar sounds.

Indeed, the pattern is most obvious in the repetition of the sounds in both works cin-co as the c/k sound twice, at the start of each syllable. And the fi-ve as the f- sound (and its closely related, usually identical and often interchangeable sound of v-) at the start of each of its syllables as well.

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Pie – Foot http://www.spanishetymology.com/pie-foot/ http://www.spanishetymology.com/pie-foot/#respond Sat, 17 Jun 2017 14:27:04 +0000 http://www.fornerds.org/?p=51 Foot pie Spanish English

The English foot comes from the Indo-European root *ped. Think pedal.

Interestingly, the “p” sound consistently transformed into an “f” in the Germanic languages — but remained a “p” in the Latinate languages.

This is why, foot is equivalent to pie.

Other examples of this pattern include father and padre, and the English far is from the same root as the Latin per.

Save

Save

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Ganar and Gain http://www.spanishetymology.com/ganar-and-gain/ http://www.spanishetymology.com/ganar-and-gain/#respond Fri, 16 Jun 2017 14:22:32 +0000 http://www.fornerds.org/?p=445 Ganar (Spanish for “to win”) comes from the old Germanic root waidanjan, meaning “to hunt”. From the same root, via French, we get the English… gain.

The g-n pattern is clearly visible in both.

Interestingly, this is almost an example of the w- to g- pattern, like guerra and war. It has the original w- root in the original word but the modern words, in both Spanish and English, use the g- sound (since the English word came indirectly from Latin via French).

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Desarrollar and Roll, Control http://www.spanishetymology.com/desarrollar-and-roll-control/ http://www.spanishetymology.com/desarrollar-and-roll-control/#respond Thu, 15 Jun 2017 14:17:12 +0000 http://www.fornerds.org/?p=407 Desarrollar (Spanish for “to develop”) comes from the Latin roots des– (“reversal”) and rotulus (“a roll of paper”).

This implies a few interesting questions. First, how do we get from a “roll of paper” to “developing”? The story is fun: the Latin rotulus (“roll of paper”) evolved into the Spanish arrollar, meaning “to crush, destroy”. Perhaps because you need to destroy a tree to create a scroll? Perhaps paper destroys the sacred oral tradition? Perhaps the words on paper have the power to destroy? Perhaps destruction is caused by modernity, by the wheel itself (since rotulus was often used to mean “wheel”)?

The conservativeness of the word, however, doubles down. Over time, however, it became more common to use arrollar with the negative (des-) prefix. So, development in Spanish is really just not destroying. The language reveals a far more fundamentally conservative bias than politics ever could.

From the Latin rotulus, we also get the English roll (in the sense of, a roll of toiletpaper) as well as control — which itself comes from contra (“against”) and rotulus. So, control is just what you do in order to fight against the wheel? The more prosaic explanation, however, comes from the rolls being used to record business balances in medieval times, and the control was to double verify each datum. Not as metaphorical but words have layers of meaning, buried deeply under each other, we must not forget.

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Tener – Tenet, -tain http://www.spanishetymology.com/tener-tenet-tain/ http://www.spanishetymology.com/tener-tenet-tain/#respond Wed, 14 Jun 2017 14:09:59 +0000 http://www.fornerds.org/?p=55 Hold tener spanish english

The Spanish tener (to hold) comes from the Latin tenere for the same.

From the same root tenere, we get the English tenet — think about it, you hold your beliefs.

And it gets even better: from tenere, we also get the English suffix -tain, as in maintain, sustain, contain, detain, obtain, and entertain. And the -tain words map almost identically to the Spanish suffix of the same, the same -tener!

For example, mano, the Spanish for hand, is the same mano in maintain (or mantener, in Spanish) — which thus literally means, “to hold in your hand”!

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Palabra and Parable http://www.spanishetymology.com/palabra-and-parable/ http://www.spanishetymology.com/palabra-and-parable/#respond Tue, 13 Jun 2017 13:39:37 +0000 http://spanishetymology.com/?p=602 The Spanish palabra (“word”) comes from the Latin parabola, meaning, “story; comparison.”

From that Latin word, we get the English… parable.

So, the word that became “word” in Spanish, became, the child’s word in English!

The p-r-b-l root is clear in both.

Interestingly, from the same root is the French word for “to talk”: parler. Je ne parle pas Francais!

But it gets more interesting: the French parler (literally, “to tell parables”) has a parallel to the Spanish hablar (which came from fabulare, literally, “to tell fables.”) As the Roman soldiers conquered Spain and France, their exaggerated words for telling stories — telling parables or fables — eventually became the words themselves for just, talking.

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