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Cár­cel and In­car­cer­a­tion, Can­cel

Cár­cel (Span­ish for “prison, jail”) comes form the Latin for the same, carcer. Note that the words are al­most iden­ti­cal ex­cept for the l/r swap — a very com­mon switch lin­guis­ti­cal­ly (think of the Japan­ese, who pro­nounce both in­ter­change­ably, “Frush­ing mead­ows! Frush­ing mead­ows!” as they joke in New York).

From that same Latin root carcer, we get two Eng­lish words.

More di­rect­ly, In­car­cer­a­tion. That makes sense — in­car­cer­at­ing is go­ing to jail! We can see the c‑r-c root in both.

More sub­tly, we al­so get the Eng­lish can­cel. The Eng­lish made the same l/r shift as the Span­ish — but, as it came via French, the first ‑r- be­came an ‑n-. But that’s a French pat­tern for an­oth­er day!

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