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Golpe and Coup

The Span­ish for “a hit”, Golpe, comes from the Greek for the same, Co­la­phus. We can see the tran­si­tion in the g‑l-p of golpe map­ping to the c‑l-ph of co­la­phus.

The more in­ter­est­ing part, how­ev­er, is that, from the same root we al­so get the French, and Eng­lish, word coup — as in, a coup d’é­tat. Coup is just co­la­phus, but with the mid­dle ‑l- sound dis­ap­pear­ing in French.

So, a coup d’é­tat is just a big hit against the state!

Acatar and Cap­ture

The Span­ish Acatar (mean­ing “to fol­low, obey, re­spect”) comes from the Latin captare, mean­ing “to cap­ture, take hold of”. From that root, we get a few Eng­lish words, in­clud­ing:

  • Cap­ture — sur­prise, sur­prise.
  • Ca­pa­ble — if you’re ca­pa­ble, you take hold of the so­lu­tions!
  • Cap­tive — if you’re cap­tive, some­one else has tak­en hold of you!
  • Cater — the cater­er is lit­er­al­ly the per­son who takes hold of the food for you.

The c-℗t root is vis­i­ble in all, al­though the ‑p- in the ‑pt- has been lost in a few vari­a­tions.

Eje and Axle

The Span­ish eje for “axle” comes from the Latin for the same, ax­is. The Eng­lish axle comes from the same com­mon an­ces­tor as the Latin ax­is, the pro­to-in­do-eu­ro­pean root *aks- al­so mean­ing the same.

The Span­ish eje is easy to un­der­stand if we re­mem­ber that most of the x/sh/ch sounds in Latin and the an­cient lan­guages be­came the throat-clear­ing ‑j- sound in Span­ish. Thus, the e‑j of eje maps to the a‑x of axle pret­ty clear­ly.

It’s in­ter­est­ing how such a sim­ple word has re­mained most­ly un­changed for tens of thou­sands of years. Per­haps, the axle is one of the most fun­da­men­tal dis­cov­er­ies in hu­man his­to­ry. It is, af­ter all, what led to the wheel, which led to… civ­i­liza­tion.

San­gre and San­gria

San­gre (Span­ish for “blood”) comes from the Latin san­guis for the same.

From that root, we al­so get.… san­gria. Yes, the clas­sic al­co­holic wine plus fruit drink looks a bit like blood!

We al­so get a bunch of less com­mon words, such as, con­san­guine (cousin mar­riages!) and even just san­guine, which orig­i­nal­ly meant “blood­thirsty”. It’s on­ly a small step from the in­ten­si­ty of blood­thirsty to the cheery op­ti­mism of san­guine!

Re­van­cha and Vin­di­cate

The Span­ish re­van­cha (“re­venge”) comes from the Latin vin­di­care, mean­ing — sur­pris­ing­ly — “to vin­di­cate.”

Re­venge, af­ter all, is just one way to vin­di­cate your­self!

If we re­mem­ber the re­in­forc­ing re- pre­fix, we can see that the v‑n-ch of re­van­cha maps to the v‑n-(d)-c of vin­di­cate.

Abar­car and Brachial

Abar­car (“to cov­er, take in, take on”) comes from the Latin brachi­um for “shoul­der.”

From the same Latin root brachi­um, we get the Eng­lish brachial: as in your brachial artery, the artery that runs down your shoul­der!

The b‑r root is clear­ly vis­i­ble from both.

Un­sur­pris­ing­ly, from the same root we al­so get the Span­ish for shoul­der… bra­zo as well as the Eng­lish.… bra.

Creer — In­cred­i­ble

The Span­ish creer, “to be­lieve”, is easy to re­mem­ber once we re­al­ize it comes from the same root as… in­cred­i­ble. Both are from the Latin cred­i­bilis (mean­ing “worth of be­liev­ing”), and the in- pre­fix is a nega­tion, so that which is in­cred­i­ble is lit­er­al­ly… un­be­liev­able. And thus creer is al­so a first cousin to be­ing… cred­i­ble. Ah­hh!

Daño and Con­demn, Damn

Daño, Span­ish for “dam­age”, comes from the Latin for the same: damnum. From the same root we get both the Eng­lish con­demn and damn. But what hap­pened to that miss­ing ‘m’?

In­ter­est­ing­ly, the Latin m‑n sound tend­ed to turn in­to a ñ sound in Span­ish. This ex­plains how au­tumn be­came otoño, for ex­am­ple.

We can still see this pat­tern pre­served in the per­fect map­ping of d‑ñ in daño to the d‑mn of damn, and the same with con­demn.

From the same root we al­so get the Eng­lish in­dem­ni­ty, as well as dam­age it­self, al­though the fi­nal ‑n was lost be­cause dam­age en­tered Eng­lish via French.

We can see the par­al­lel but be­tween daño, con­demn, dam­age, and damnum — but how did it come to mean the for­mer­ly-vul­gar, damn? Think of damn in the old sense of, sen­tenc­ing some­one for a crime they did: you are con­demned to hell. A whole slew of Eng­lish in­sults come from this same con­cept, in­clud­ing the word hell it­self!

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.

Ren­cor and Ran­cid

The Span­ish for “anger,” ren­cor, has a fun Eng­lish cousin: ran­cid.

Both words come from the Latin rancere, mean­ing “to stink.”

Thus, lit­er­al­ly, both rot­ten food stinks and, anger stinks.

We can see the re­la­tion­ship clear­ly if we see the r‑n-c map­ping be­tween the words.


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