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Sala and Salon, Saloon

Sala, the common Spanish word meaning “room,” comes from the same root as two very similar English words: salon and saloon. All come from the old German sal meaning “hall” or “house” and thus it’s an interesting example of how words degrade overtime: something big and grand like a hall or a house is now just your little back room.

The s‑l root is clearly visible in all variations.

Huevo and Ovulate

Huevo (Spanish for “egg”) comes from the Latin ovum for the same. From that Latin root, we get the English… ovaries. The ue‑v of huevo clearly maps to the o‑v of ovary! The eggs are both literal and metaphorical!

From the same root we also get ovulate and even… oval An egg is oval, isn’t it?

Atropellar and Troop

Atropellar (“to knock over, to knock down” in Spanish) comes to Spanish borrowed from the French, troupe, as in, a troop of soldiers or more common these days, a comedy troop. 

Although we can see the tr‑p root in the English, French, and Spanish words, the question remains: how did a group turn into a knocking-over? The answer is that, large groups of rowdy drunk men almost always result in… knocking lots of people over! This is not a new concept–the word itself attests to the antiquity of drunken revelry!

Estrella Fugaz and Fugitive

A “shooting star” in Spanish is an estrella fugaz. Since estrella means “star”, then fugaz is the parallel to “shooting.”

Fugaz comes from the Latin fugere which means, “to run away; flee” — from which we get the English fugitive.

The mapping is obvious with the f‑g retained in both versions.

Thus, in Spanish, a shooting star is literally, a fleeing star. But fleeing from what?

Buscar and Postulate

Buscar (Spanish for “to ask for”) comes from the Latin poscere (“to ask urgently”). In the transition from Latin to Spanish, the word was definitely weakened since buscar doesn’t have any urgent implication.

From this Latin root, we also get the English word… postulate. Postulating is really just formulating a thesis and wanting responses — which is just a sophisticated form of asking a question!

We can see the b‑s-c of buscar maps to the p‑s-t of postulate.

Palabra and Parable

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.

Pollo and Poultry

Pollo (Spanish for “chicken”) is a close cousin of the English poultry.

Both come from the Latin pullus meaning “a young animal”.

The p‑l mapping in both is obvious. And this mapping falls into the category of “completely and utterly obvious once you’ve heard it… but you never thought of it or realized it until someone told you”.

Padre and Father

Father padre spanish english

Father is one of the most basic words in every language and a traceable pattern throughout the Indo-European languages.

The original PIE sound “p-” changed in all the Germanic languages to “f-”. This is referred to as “Grimm’s Law”, from the fairy-tale fabulist who first noted this pattern.

In the Latin languages such as Spanish, the original “p-” sound was preserved. Thus, the Spanish padre’s p‑d-r root maps to the English father’s f‑th‑r root.

Martes — Tuesday

Martes  tuesday  spanish  english

Last time, we saw that Lunes and Monday are from the same God, the moon. Now we will see the same for Martes and Tuesday.

Martes, the Spanish for Tuesday, is named after the Roman God of War, whom we all learned about in middle school mythology classes: Mars.

Tuesday is named after Tiw, who was the Germanic God of War — their equivalent of Mars!

Tuesday is thus, literally, “Tiw’s Day”.

More interestingly, the name “Tiw” comes from the Indo-European Root “Dye-us” (think of the T‑iw and D‑ye parallel with the final “-us” being lost) — from which we also get the Spanish word dios (for God) and the Sanskrit deva (we all know that that means!).

Elegir and Elect, Elegant

Elegir (Spanish for “to choose”) comes from the Latin for the same, eligere.

From the Latin root eligere, we get the English… elect. We can see the e‑l-g map to the e‑l-ct clearly; the “g” and hard “ct” sounds do sound similar. To choose, to elect–’tis the same!

More surprisingly, from the same root, we also get the English… elegant. We can see the e‑l-g mapping preserved here. Is not something elegant just something that the elites have chosen?

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