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Cien­to and Hun­dred

To­day’s link is an­oth­er gem: de­spite sound­ing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent, hun­dred and its cien­to are ac­tu­al­ly the same word. Here’s how.

The an­cient Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean root *km­tom meant a hun­dred. As PIE evolved in­to Latin, the word stayed ba­si­cal­ly the same pho­net­i­cal­ly, turn­ing in­to cen­tum, and stayed the same (but with a soft‑c pro­nun­ci­a­tion) in­to the Span­ish, cien­to.

But as PIE evolved in­to Ger­man, the k-/c- sounds evolved in­to h- sounds. Think about heart/cora­zon and hemp/cannabis, for ex­am­ple. 100 fol­lowed the same pat­tern, with the ini­tial k-/c- sound turn­ing in­to the h-.

Thus, the c‑n-t of cien­to maps ex­act­ly to the h‑n-d of hun­dred. The t/d were in­ter­changed but that’s a very com­mon, sim­i­lar, and more ob­vi­ous pat­tern.


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