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Cabeza and Head

The In­do-Eu­ro­pean root ka­put, mean­ing “head”, led to words for the head in al­most every west­ern lan­guage, with no change.

The ka­put turned in­to the al­most-iden­ti­cal ca­put in Latin; and then that evolved, through very mi­nor changes, to the al­most-the-same cabeza in Span­ish. The main sound shift is the p to b, but those are very clear­ly aligned signs that of­ten swap.

Ka­put, how­ev­er, evolved in­to the Ger­man kopf — which then be­came the Eng­lish head. How so?

The Ger­man­ic sound “k-”, as Ger­man evolved in­to Eng­lish, gen­er­al­ly be­came the “h-” sound in Eng­lish. Take cen­tu­ry/hun­dred or horn/cor­nudo or, my fa­vorite, hemp/cannabis as oth­er ex­am­ples.

Thus, the c‑b(-z) of cabeza maps to the h‑d of head. In the Eng­lish pat­tern of short, pow­er­ful words, the fi­nal sound was lost as well, to give us the sim­ple, straight­for­ward head.

Ár­bol and Herb

Ár­bol, Span­ish for “tree” comes from the Latin ar­bor, for the same. We can see the Latin to Span­ish evo­lu­tion eas­i­ly rec­og­niz­ing the com­mon r‑to‑l swap, where the “r” and “l” sounds in many lan­guages are of­ten in­ter­changed.

From the same Latin root, we get a va­ri­ety of re­lat­ed Eng­lish words, such as herb and ar­bor, as in Ann Ar­bor, home of the great Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan. We al­so get some oth­er Span­ish words, such as hi­er­ba, mean­ing “grass”.

The pat­tern is easy to spot in the vow­el-r‑b root: a‑r-b for ár­bol and e‑r-b for herb.

Piel and Peel

The Eng­lish peel comes from the Latin pilus, mean­ing “hair”, from which we get the Span­ish for “hair,” pe­lo.

More in­ter­est­ing, how­ev­er, is its Span­ish cousin, piel, mean­ing “skin,” from the re­lat­ed Latin pel­lis, mean­ing “hide”.

Your skin, af­ter all, is just a thin cov­er­ing of your body — just when you peel the skin off of the ap­ple.

The p‑l root is eas­i­ly vis­i­ble in all of these.

Mano — Man­u­fac­ture

The Span­ish for “hand,” mano, has a first cousin in the Eng­lish man­u­fac­ture.

Man­u­fac­ture comes from the Latin manus (like in Span­ish, al­so “hand”) and the Latin fac­tura (which is from facere — “to do”, and al­most iden­ti­cal­ly in Span­ish, with an f‑to‑h con­ver­sion, hac­er).

Thus, “man­u­fac­tur­ing” is lit­er­al­ly, “mak­ing by hand” — the work of an ar­ti­san!

Al­so from the Latin for “hand”, and thus still cousins with the Span­ish mano is man­u­al as well: man­u­al la­bor is al­so work done with your hands–literally.

Lejos and Leash

We re­cent­ly dis­cussed the re­la­tion­ship be­tween de­jar and re­lax, both from the same Latin root, laxare, from the Latin laxus. Oth­er mod­ern words come from these same roots, let’s see…

In Span­ish, an­oth­er in­ter­est­ing word from the same root is lejos, mean­ing, “far.” This un­der­went the same sh to j tran­si­tion doc­u­ment­ed in the oth­er post. That which is far away, af­ter all, is what we can be re­laxed about, what it’s easy to be loose about.

Some ad­di­tion­al Eng­lish words that come from this same root in­clude:

  • Lease — think about it this way, the Eng­lish say “to let”, that is, to let peo­ple do some­thing with your prop­er­ty, to be re­laxed and dis­tant about it.
  • Lush — the lush man is some­one who is re­laxed about his dili­gence drink­ing.
  • Leash — a leash is pre­cise­ly what you use to try to not let any­thing get re­laxed!

Es­con­der and Ab­scond

Es­con­der (Span­ish for “to hide”) comes from the Latin ab- (“away”) and con­dere (“to put to­geth­er”). Hid­ing is, af­ter all, just a form of putting your­self away from every­one else!

From the same root we get the less com­mon Eng­lish ab­scond, “to se­cret­ly run away to avoid cap­ture.” That is just hiding–but tak­en to the ex­treme!

Rec­haz­ar and Cazar

The Span­ish rec­haz­ar (“to re­ject”) does­n’t sound like any­thing in Eng­lish. At least not ob­vi­ous­ly.

The word, how­ev­er, comes from more ba­sic Span­ish word cazar (“to hunt”), which we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly dis­cussed here — re­lat­ed to the Eng­lish “chase.”

But how did the word for “hunt” be­come “re­ject”?

Well, lets think about it: you hunt af­ter your op­po­nent, your en­e­my, the big bad bear you’re try­ing to kill. You hunt af­ter that which you re­ject. Hunt­ing could then be seen as the strongest form of re­jec­tion!

Decir/Dicho and Dic­tio­nary

Dictionary decir spanish english

The Span­ish De­cir (“to say”) comes from the Latin dic­tio for “word”. Its par­tici­ple form is di­cho — and di­cho al­so means “say­ing”, in the sense of, a cliche.

Thus de­cir is an­oth­er ex­am­ple of the “ct” sound in Latin turn­ing in­to the “ch” sound in Span­ish — and is al­so re­lat­ed to the Eng­lish word… dic­tio­nary.

Miedo and Metic­u­lous

The Span­ish Miedo (“fear”) comes from the Latin me­tus, for “fear.”

From that same root, we get the Eng­lish… metic­u­lous. Metic­u­lous lit­er­al­ly means, “full of fear”: and who is metic­u­lous about every tiny lit­tle de­tail if not the per­son who is full of fear of mess­ing up?

We can see the m‑t of metic­u­lous maps to the m‑d of miedo.

Cos­til­la and Coast, Ac­cost

Cos­til­la, Span­ish for “rib,” is a close cousin of the Eng­lish coast and ac­cost. All come from the same Latin root, cos­ta, mean­ing, “side.”

Thus, your rib is lit­er­al­ly, “what which is on your side” and to ac­cost is lit­er­al­ly, “to come up to you from the side” and, of course, the coast is the de­f­i­n­i­tion of the side, your side bound­ary.

The c‑s-t root is clear­ly vis­i­ble in all de­scen­dents of cos­ta.


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