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Camisa – Heaven

The Spanish for “shirt”, Camisa, is a distant cousin of the English Heaven. How?

Both come from the same common ancestor, the Proto-Indo-European root *kem, meaning, “to cover.” This root evolved, via German, to the English heaven (that which covers us above) and it evolved, via Latin (and even the French chemise), to the Spanish camisa (that which covers our torso!).

But they sound so different. How can that be?

The answer is that the Indo-European sound k- transformed over time into the German and then English h- sound — which remaining the same (albeit with a c- spelling) in Latin and then Spanish. Thus the c- of camisa maps to the h- of heaven.

Other examples of this pattern include cornudo/horn and horse/correr.

Disfrutarse and Fruit

The common Spanish word for “to enjoy”, disfrutarse has an unlikely cousin: fruit.

Both come from the same root, the Latin fructus meaning, “something you enjoy.” We do enjoy fruit after all — it is the classical dessert.

In English, we do have the remains of fruit in this sense in the occasional phrases, like, “the fruits of your labor.”

We can see the mapping of both the English and Spanish to each other in the f-r-t root in both.

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).

Faro – Lighthouse

Lighthouse faron spanish english

Lighthouse in Spanish is Faro. Seems totally random, doesn’t it? Well…

The greatest and most famous lighthouse in history was, of course one of the 7 Wonders of the World, the infamous Lighthouse at Alexandria, in ancient Egypt.

And the ancient Latins — knowing all about and in awe of the amazing lighthouse- referred to it by the title of the man who built it which was, of course, the King of Egypt. And they called their Kings, Pharaohs!

Pharaoh — yes, the same Pharaoh featured in the Old Testament who enslaved the Jews and thus of course gave them the holiday of Passover — in Spanish is written faraón. Thus, giving rise to the word faro for lighthouse.

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.

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