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Hela­do, Hielo and Gelatin, Jel­lo

It’s easy to for­get: the silent “h” can turn in­to a whole va­ri­ety of soft, al­most silent sounds in dif­fer­ent lan­guages.

Case and point: hela­do, Span­ish for “ice cream” (and re­lat­ed words: helar for “to freeze”, and hielo, “ice”). All of these come from the Latin for gelare for… gelatin. And what is sweet­ened gelatin for mass con­sump­tion if not the brand… jel­lo!

We can see the pat­tern best if we re­mem­ber that the silent h- is very sim­i­lar to the bare­ly au­di­ble soft g- and soft j- sounds in Eng­lish. Thus, the h‑l-d of hela­do maps to the g‑l-t of gelatin!


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