Go­ta and Gout, Gut­ter

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.

Guiller­mo — William

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).

Coche — Coach

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.

Sol­er and In­so­lent

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.

Trip­u­la­cion, Pulir and Pol­ish, In­ter­po­late

Trip­u­lación (Span­ish for “crew”, such as on a boat or plane) comes from the Latin pre­fix in­ter- (“be­tween”) and the Latin root polire (“to pol­ish” in Latin). A crew prob­a­bly spends much of their time pol­ish­ing the ship to per­fec­tion, right?

From the same Latin root polire, we get an­oth­er Span­ish word: pulir which means… “to pol­ish”. Sur­prise, sur­prise!

From this root, we al­so get the Eng­lish pol­ish as well, in ad­di­tion to the less ob­vi­ous: in­ter­po­late. How did that trans­for­ma­tion of mean­ing hap­pen? Re­mem­ber that in in­ter­po­lat­ing, you’re re­al­ly pol­ish­ing up the da­ta! You’re tak­ing da­ta from the dusty bins of for­got­ten files, dust­ing it off and reusing it: just like pol­ish­ing up a ship.

The p‑l root is clear in all vari­a­tions as well.


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