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, 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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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!
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.
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, 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.