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Ten­er — Tenet, ‑tain

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”!

Ba­jo — Base

The Span­ish ba­jo, for “low”, sounds un­like the sim­i­lar words in Eng­lish.… ex­cept for base.

Think about base as the core foun­da­tion or sup­port — the low­est thing hold­ing every­thing else up — or even in the old Shake­speare­an sense of “vile”, “the basest weed” —  the con­nec­tion makes much more sense.

Both come from the Latin ba­sis (mean­ing, “foun­da­tion”) — from which we al­so get the same Eng­lish, ba­sis.

And think of the bass cleff in mu­sic, for the low­er notes, as well.

The sur­pris­ing con­nec­tion is ex­plained eas­i­ly when we un­der­stand that a lot of sh- and si- and re­lat­ed sounds in Latin turned in­to j- in Span­ish. Thus, the b‑s maps to b‑j al­most ex­act­ly.

Gestación and Ges­tate

Gestación (“to de­vel­op”) comes from the Latin gestare (“to bear, car­ry, ges­tate”) from which we al­so get — not that sur­pris­ing­ly — the Eng­lish word ges­tate. While the orig­i­nal word and the Eng­lish ver­sion fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing a ba­by, in Span­ish it has come to be used more broad­ly: like a busi­ness idea de­vel­ops. The g‑st root is clear­ly vis­i­ble in both words.

Pare­cer and Ap­pari­tion

Pare­cer, Span­ish for “to ap­pear”, comes from the Latin parere, mean­ing the same. As does the Span­ish verb form, apare­cer.

Ob­vi­ous­ly to some but not to oth­ers, from the same root comes the Eng­lish ap­pear as as well as… ap­pari­tion. What is an ap­pari­tion if not some­thing that ap­pears to you but does­n’t re­al­ly ex­ist?

We can see the re­la­tion­ship be­cause the p‑r of pare­cer maps to the p‑r in both ap­pear and ap­pari­tion.

Gama and Gamut

Gama (Span­ish for “range”) comes from the Greek gam­ma, the third let­ter of the al­pha­bet: al­pha be­ta gam­ma. But it came to mean “range” in an in­ter­est­ing way: mu­sic. The tra­di­tion­al mu­si­cal note gam­ma — which to­day is just ‘g’ — was used, in clas­sic mu­si­cal no­ta­tion, and still to­day — to re­fer to the note that is both just be­low the pri­ma­ry start­ing let­ter ‘a’ (hence, on a pi­ano, the ‘g’ key is im­me­di­ate­ly to the left of the ‘a’ key), as well as the high­est note that ends the oc­tave on the oth­er side. Thus, the gam­ma refers to the whole range of notes!

From the same root, and with the same mu­si­cal his­to­ry, we al­so get the Eng­lish SAT-syn­onym for “range”… gamut.

The g‑m root is clear­ly vis­i­ble in both.

Celoso and Jeal­ous, Zeal

The Span­ish celoso and the Eng­lish for the same, jeal­ousy, come from the same Greek root: ze­los.

But how did this hap­pen? They should so dif­fer­ent!

The an­swer is that the Latin (and Greek) words with a ‑ch- sound and vari­a­tions (like ‑sh‑, the soft ‑j-, ‑z-, etc) usu­al­ly turned in­to the hard, gut­tur­al, throat-cleaing ‑j- sound in Span­ish. Think about sher­ry and jerez, for ex­am­ple, or quash and que­jar, or soap and jabón.

Thus, the c‑l-s of celoso maps to the j‑l-s of jeal­ous.

Cu­ri­ous­ly, the an­cient Greek form — ze­los — meant jeal­ousy, but in the more pos­i­tive sense of en­thu­si­asm and friend­ly ri­val­ry. In a word: zeal — which al­so comes from the same root!

Bol­sa and Bourse, Purse

The Span­ish bol­sa has two com­mon de­f­i­n­i­tions — both with note­wor­thy and re­lat­ed et­y­molo­gies.

Bol­sa com­mon­ly means “purse.” And in­deed, both come from the same root: the Greek byr­sa, mean­ing “hide, leather.”

We can see the con­nec­tion if we re­mem­ber that the ‑b- and ‑p- sounds are of­ten in­ter­change­able, as are the ‑r- and ‑l- sounds. Thus the b‑l-s of bol­sa maps to the p‑r-s of purse.

Sim­i­lar­ly, bol­sa has a sec­ond de­f­i­n­i­tion in Span­ish: the “stock mar­ket.” It makes sense if we think about the bol­sa and the purse as, the places where mon­ey is kept. And in Eng­lish, a less-com­mon syn­onym for stock mar­ket is bourse — and we see this same word in French all the time, the Bourse de Paris. With bourse, on­ly the ‑p- and ‑b- are in­ter­changed, not the ‑r- and ‑l-, thus map­ping the b‑l-s to b‑r-s.

Facil — Dif­fi­cult

The every­day Span­ish word facil, mean­ing “easy” is the ex­act op­po­site — lit­er­al­ly — of the Eng­lish, dif­fi­cult.

Both come from the latin facere, mean­ing, “to do” (hence the Span­ish hac­er and the Eng­lish fact, as well).

So, facil — easy — is lit­er­al­ly, do­ing! Do­ing is easy, we hope.

Dif­fi­cult is re­al­ly just de-facil : that is, not facil. Now that is easy, in­deed!

The con­nec­tion be­comes clear when we re­mem­ber the f‑c-l root in both words!

Co­quetear and Cock

Co­quetear, the Span­ish verb mean­ing “to flirt,” comes from the French coq which means “cock” — in both sens­es — from which we al­so get the Eng­lish word cock, al­beit with a slight­ly dif­fer­ent spelling.

It’s not that hard to fig­ure out how a word that means “pe­nis” came to mean “flirt” — but it is easy to smile every time you re­mem­ber why.

From the same root, we al­so get the al­most-for­got­ten Eng­lish word for “flirt­ing,” co­quetry.

The c‑q to c‑ck map­ping is clear be­tween both words.

Jeringa — Sy­ringe

Jeringa, Span­ish for Sy­ringe, sounds like it has noth­ing in com­mon with its Eng­lish counter-part. But they are lit­er­al­ly the same word.

The Latin sh- sound of­ten evolved in­to the j- sound in Span­ish — orig­i­nal­ly re­tain­ing the sh- sound but even­tu­al­ly, un­der Ara­bic’s in­flu­ence, trans­form­ing to the throat-clear­ing sound we know and love.

This ex­plains how both jeringa and sy­ringe de­rive from the same root: the Latin siringa, it­self from the Greek sy­ringa. The sy- sound is a vari­a­tion of the sh- sound and there­fore the sy-r-n‑g of sy­ringe maps to the j‑r-n‑g of jeringa.


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