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Nieve and Snow

Both the Span­ish nieve and the Eng­lish for the same, snow, come from the same root, al­though via very dif­fer­ent routes.

In Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean, the an­cient an­ces­tor to both Span­ish (PIE turned in­to Latin then Span­ish) and Eng­lish (PIE al­so turned in­to an­cient Ger­man­ic then Eng­lish), the Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean *snieg­wh for snow gave rise to both the Latin nivis — which turned in­to the Span­ish nieve — and the old Ger­man sneo which be­came the Eng­lish snow.

Thus, the n‑v of nieve maps ex­act­ly to the n‑w of snow. The key sound change, which is what can con­fuse us, is the loss of the ini­tial s- as the word trans­formed from PIE in­to Latin and then Span­ish.


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