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Bor­ra­cho and Ine­bri­at­ed

The fun, and every­day, Span­ish word bor­ra­cho is.… drunk. Al­though it sounds noth­ing like the Eng­lish “drunk” it does have a sub­tle cousin in Eng­lish: ine­bri­at­ed. Al­though they don’t look the same we can see the par­al­lel if we look with squint­ed eyes:

The b‑r-ch root of bor­ra­cho maps to the b‑r in (in)-b-r‑t. The Eng­lish ver­sion sounds more Lati­nate be­cause we added the in- pre­fix for em­pha­sis at the be­gin­ning.

Lu­na — Lu­natic

Okay, put the Span­ish for “moon”, Lu­na, be­ing re­lat­ed to Lu­natic, in the cat­e­go­ry of, “It’s so ob­vi­ous you nev­er re­al­ized it un­til some­one once point­ed it out to you!”.

Night­time has his­tor­i­cal­ly, since an­cient times, been as­so­ci­at­ed with dan­ger and the crazy risk­i­ness that comes along­side it. This is man­i­fest­ed in many forms, in­clud­ing the Luna/Lunatic par­al­lel.

Think, al­so, about par­al­lel Eng­lish clich­es like, “shoot­ing for the moon”: some­one who is try­ing some­thing that is so risky and un­like­ly to suc­ceed that you must be in­sane to even try it!

Ladrón — Bur­glar

The Span­ish ladrón, for thief, sounds un­re­lat­ed to any Eng­lish word.

But, it does have an in­ter­est­ing con­nec­tion to the Eng­lish for the same, Bur­glar.

Bur­glar comes from the Latin bur­gus, which meant “cas­tle” or a “for­ti­fied town” — think about the ‑burg end­ing in many place names, like Pitts­burgh or Ed­in­bor­ough.

But, if bur­glar comes from bur­gus, then where did the ‑l- in the mid­dle come from?

Well, the ‑l- was in­sert­ed slow­ly over time un­der the in­flu­ence of the Latin for thief, la­tro. The word for “thief” was, un­con­scious­ly, made to sound sim­i­lar to the oth­er word for thief! And from la­tro we get, di­rect­ly, the Span­ish ladrón.

Thus, al­though bur­glar is­n’t di­rect­ly de­scend­ed from ladrón, they are in­ces­tu­ous cousins.

Pre­supuesto and Pre­sup­pose

To­day’s pat­tern is an­oth­er en­try in the “ob­vi­ous in hind­sight” cat­e­go­ry.

Pre­supuesto is the com­mon Span­ish word for “bud­get.” Sounds ar­bi­trary and hard to re­mem­ber.

But it turns out, this is just a par­tici­ple of pre­supon­er, which is con­ju­gat­ed just like pon­er and means… to pre­sup­pose.

We see the re­la­tion be­tween the words ob­vi­ous­ly in the too-clear pre-s-p‑s pat­tern.

A bud­get, af­ter all, is just pre­sup­pos­ing how all the mon­ey will be spent, right?

Chi­cle and Chi­clets

Chi­cle (Span­ish for “gum”) gives us the Eng­lish chi­clets, the gum brand. Through a fun­ny sto­ry: when Mex­i­can gen­er­al San­ta An­na lost Texas, he fled — dressed up in drag, ac­tu­al­ly (true sto­ry!) — to Stat­en Is­land. There, he stayed with an in­ven­tor Thomas Adams and told him about the Mex­i­can love of chew­ing chi­cle… the rest is his­to­ry.

Casarse — Hus­band, Shack Up

Casarse shack up spanish english

“To mar­ry”, in Span­ish, is casarse.

The fun­ny part: casarse comes from the com­mon Span­ish word for “house”, casa. That makes sense: get­ting mar­ried is fun­da­men­tal­ly about two peo­ple build­ing a house to­geth­er, metaphor­i­cal­ly and lit­er­al­ly.

In Eng­lish, al­though mar­ry is un­re­lat­ed, two Eng­lish words con­vey the same con­cept. Hus­band, in Eng­lish, comes from the Old Eng­lish “hus — bon­di”, which mean, “House Dweller”: so the Hus­band is the one who lives in the house!

Even bet­ter: Amer­i­can slang hands down to us a low­er ver­sion of the same con­cept, the slang phrase, “to shack up”, mean­ing, well, to ei­ther live to­geth­er in sin — pre­mar­i­tal­ly — or more re­cent­ly, to have sex in a one-night stand. A shack, af­ter all, is just a poor house.

Mien­tras and In­ter­im

Mien­tras (Span­ish for “while”), comes from the Latin dum in­ter­im, mean­ing, “in the mean­time,” which it­self comes from the ear­li­er ba­sic pre­fix, in­ter-. In­ter­im has en­tered for­mal Eng­lish speech mean­ing the same, of course.

The n‑t-r root is vis­i­ble in both mien­tras and in­ter­im — but it is less ob­vi­ous be­cause of the m- open­ing sound, from the lost pre­fix dum (“out of”).

Pie — Foot

Foot pie Spanish English

The Eng­lish foot comes from the In­do-Eu­ro­pean root *ped. Think ped­al.

In­ter­est­ing­ly, the “p” sound con­sis­tent­ly trans­formed in­to an “f” in the Ger­man­ic lan­guages — but re­mained a “p” in the Lati­nate lan­guages.

This is why, foot is equiv­a­lent to pie.

Oth­er ex­am­ples of this pat­tern in­clude fa­ther and padre, and the Eng­lish far is from the same root as the Latin per.



Sue­lo, Sub­sue­lo and Sole, Soil

Sue­lo is Span­ish for “floor” al­though it is not too com­mon (piso is the more com­mon word). But, very com­mon is sub­sue­lo — the sub-floor, that is: the base­ment.

This is, un­ex­pect­ed­ly, re­lat­ed to a few Eng­lish words.

Sue­lo comes from the Latin solum, mean­ing “ground.”

From solum, we get two Eng­lish words:

First, soil — yes, the soil is what is on the ground be­low you!

Sec­ond, sole — as in the sole of your shoe. This, too, is be­low you as you walk.

In both, we clear­ly see the s‑l root stay­ing con­sis­tent.

Luego and Lo­cate

Luego (Span­ish for “lat­er”) comes from the Latin lo­cus (“place.”) From this same Latin root we get var­i­ous place-re­lat­ed Eng­lish words, in­clud­ing…

  • Lo­cal — This is re­al­ly just a place!
  • Lo­cale — A lo­cale is just a type of place!
  • Lo­co­mo­tion — Lo­cal + mo­tion = mov­ing from one place to an­oth­er!
  • Lo­cate — To just find the place where some­thing is!

We can see the l‑g of luego map to the l‑c of lo­cate clear­ly.

The in­ter­est­ing ques­tion is how “place” came to mean “lat­er” in Span­ish. It’s in­ter­est­ing. Ba­si­cal­ly, in an­cient Latin (and even more­so in vul­gar Latin), lo­cus (“place”) was used in lots and lots of ex­pres­sions re­lat­ed to time. So, over time, the word for “place” be­came more and more as­so­ci­at­ed with the word for “time” — un­til, even­tu­al­ly, it be­came a type of time… be­ing late. Per­haps it’s not a co­in­ci­dence that the Latins are al­ways late — stereo­typ­i­cal­ly, at least!


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