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Ca­de­na and Con­cate­nate, Chain

Ca­de­na (Span­ish for “chain”) is a cousin of chain it­self. Both come from the Latin for the same: cate­na.

The Eng­lish chain is dis­fig­ured from the orig­i­nal for a few rea­sons. Since the Eng­lish came to our lan­guage via the French, the ini­tial c- changed in­to a ch‑, as so of­ten French does. French ad­di­tion­al­ly has a ten­den­cy to drop let­ters: the mid­dle ‑d- in this case. Thus, the c-(d)-n of ca­de­na maps to the ch‑n of chain!

From the same root, we have a more ob­vi­ous connection–but a more ob­scure word. Con­cate­nate, a nerdy word mean­ing “to add to­geth­er” that re­al­ly on­ly soft­ware de­vel­op­ers re­mem­ber these days, comes from the same root. We can thus see the c‑d-n of ca­de­na very eas­i­ly in the c‑t-n of con­cate­nate, re­mem­ber­ing the very com­mon ‑d- and ‑t- swap­ping. Con­cate­nate be­gins with the con- pre­fix (“to­geth­er” in Latin, like the Span­ish “con”) — and what is a con­cate­na­tion, if not just adding to­geth­er a bunch of nodes in a chain?

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