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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.


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