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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.


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