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Alien­to and Ex­hale

The Span­ish alien­to (“breath”) comes from the Latin for an­heli­tus (“pant­i­ng; ex­halt­ing”) which it­self comes from the old­er Latin an­h­elo (“dif­fi­cul­ty breath­ing”). An­h­elo, in turn, comes from ha­lo (even old­er Latin for breath), pre­fixed with the neg­a­tive an- pre­fix and from ha­lo which we get (via French) the Eng­lish in­hale and ex­hale.

But what’s con­fus­ing here is the Latin an­heli­tus trans­form­ing in­to the Span­ish alien­to . The easy way to see it is to re­mem­ber that: most so­lo h- in Latin be­came silent in Span­ish and then even­tu­al­ly, dis­ap­peared. (When ‘h’ does re­main in Span­ish, it is still silent!). So, (h)-l of alien­to maps to the (in)-h‑l of in­hale and sim­i­lar­ly (ex)-h‑l of ex­hale.

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