The Spanish hechizo (“spell”; nothing to do with the letters in words, but what a witch casts on you!) comes from the Latin facticius (“made by art”; “artificial” — indeed, that which is artificial is just something not occurring naturally but instead made by art!).
But how did artificial change to mean “spell”? Think about it this way: casting a spell goes against nature — it’s what the wicked, crazy and profoundly unnatural woman does! Think of the three weird sisters in Macbeth, and how they unnaturally stir up all the elements!
From hechizo (more specifically, from it’s Portuguese twin cognate, feitiço), we get the English fetish. How? Well, you have a fetish when the recipient casts a spell on you to become obsessed with the object of your fetish, right? Enough said!
That root facticius turned into hechizo by changing via two common patterns: the initial F in Latin tended to turn into an H as Latin turned into Spanish (compare fig and higo, or fume and humo!) and the ‑ct- tended to change to a ‑ch- (compare noche and noctural; or ocho and octagon). Thus the h‑ch of hechizo maps to the f‑sh of fetish.
Gremio (Spanish for “union,”, in the sense of workers, unite!; formerly “guild”–which is really just an old-school union!) comes from the Latin Gremium, meaning “round.” How did this transformation happen? Well, a round pen was where you held onto things; it turned into the word for where people got together, which turned into guild (a common reason people got together!) and then, eventually, to mean union.
However, it gets much more interesting. The Latin gremium comes from the proto-indo-european root *ger- meaning.… to get together! From this root, we also get (via Greek) words like congregate (to bring people together) and segregate (to bring people apart!).
Thus, gremio took an interesting turn over the last few thousand years: from the meaning congregate to round to congregate again!
We can see the g‑r root clearly in gremio as well as congregate and segregate.
Yerno (Spanish for “son-in-law”) at first sounds like nothing in English.
But let’s look closer! The g- and y- sounds are often mixed up between languages and even regions that speak the same language; in fact, the Old English g- transformed itself into a y- over time (compare the German gestern with the English yesterday, for example). And the n‑r sound not uncommonly swaps to become an r‑n sound, the two are easily mixed up, especially in slurred speech.
Thus, the bizarre-sounding y‑r-n root of yerno maps to the g‑n-r root of generic (Maybe sons-in-laws are more generic in Spanish cultures than English ones?) as well as genus (which lost the final r-) — yes, genus as in Latin and now scientific classification of your spot in the universe! The son-in-law, I guess, is destined to be the son-in-law as his lot-in-life.
Gota, Spanish for “drop” comes from the Latin gutta for the same. From this root we also get the English gout and… gutter. What is gout, after all, if not a pain that is a constant drip or a gutter, if not a collection of dirty water drops? The g‑l sounds are consistent among all variations.
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 “W” sound is a classic Germanic and Anglo-saxon sound. Harsh, it is.
Interestingly, the Germanic and English words with the w- become the gu- sound as these words evolved into Spanish. Yes, in this case, the Germanic and English words — centuries ago — made its way back into Spanish rather than the more common pattern of vice-versa!
One example: the name William maps to the Spanish name… Guillermo. I first discovered this because I was once in a bookstore in Buenos Aires and there was a book “Enrique IV” by “Guillermo Shakespeare”. I needed about a minute to figure out what was happening (Enrique is Spanish for Henry).
Mezcla (Spanish for “mix”) comes from the Latin miscere, meaning, “to mix.” You can envision the sound change when you remember that the ‑sc- sound sounds and even looks like the letter ‑zc-!
From the same Latin root miscere we get the English, promiscuous — just miscere with the emphasis prefix pro-, so it literally means “to mix indiscriminately.” What does a promiscuous girl (or, ummm, guy) do if not mix with anyone without discriminating between them that much?
The m‑z-c of mezcla clearly maps to the m‑s-c of promiscuous.
The Spanish for “car”, coche, on the surface sounds nothing like the English for the same — or any similar word.
But etymologically, it comes from the same root as the English, coach. Think of it in the old-fashioned sense of: the coach class on a train!
All come from the same root: the Hungarian kocsi (Hungarian is unrelated to English or Spanish, so there is no deeper root), named after the village where the first coach, in the very old sense — a large carriage — was created.
It’s interesting how coach has been downgraded as a word in English: it was first the luxurious way to travel, and now it is the economy class of a train.
Través — in the classic phrase, a través de (“going through”) — comes from the Latin transversus, which is just the prefix trans- (“through”) with vertere (“to turn”).
Here is where it gets interesting. From the same root vertere, we get all of the vert- English words, such as: convert, invert, divert, vertebrae. All do involve turning, in one form or another.
This one doesn’t have a mapping that is easy, since only the v- survives, since the trans- lost the ‑ns- and the r‑t-r of vertere disappeared, leaving us with just… v. But we should remember that the v‑, and much more often the v‑r or v‑r-t is just that something is turning, converting into something else.
Insolent derives from the Latin prefix in- (meaning, “the opposite of,” of course) and the Latin root solere, meaning, “to be used to (doing something).” So, an insolent man is literally someone who is used to not doing the things he is expected to do. That sounds pretty insolent to me!
From the same Latin root, we get the Spanish soler meaning “to be used to (doing something)” just like the original Latin root, before the negation. So next time you hear in Spanish, Suelo… (“I’m used to…”) you should think, “Don’t be insolent!”. No one will get the pun other than you, me, and our fellow ForNerds fans.
Note that this has no relation to the Spanish suelo meaning, “ground”, which comes from the Latin solum.