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Par and Peer, Pair, Disparage

The Spanish for “equal”, par, has a few useful parallels in English. All — in Spanish and English — come from the same Latin root par meaning “equal”.

  • Pair – A pair is really two equals together, literally.
  • Peer – Your peer is someone who is your equal, or at least at an equal level to you.
  • Disparage – is literally to note that someone is not your equal, with the dis- negative prefix before the p-r root.

In all of these, we can see the p-r mapping consistently and easily.

Pecho and Pectoral Girdle

The Spanish for “chest”, pecho, sounds completely different than the English chest.

But it is related to the English word for the chest bones: the Pectoral Girdle.

The relationship is the Latin -ct- words transforming into -ch- as Latin turned into Spanish. Thus, the pect- maps to pech- exactly. The English word, on the other hand, is taken – unchanged – directly from the Latin.

Also from the same root, in Spanish, es pechuga — the common word for the common food, “chicken breast”!

The same pattern we see in noche/nocturnal, leche/lactose, etc.

Parto and Post-Partum Depression

Parto (Spanish for “birth”) comes from the Latin partus, “brought forth”. That makes sense: a baby is just brought forth into the world.

From the same Latin root, we get the English partum for “birth”. But that word is really only used in one contemporary word today: post-partum depression, the depression a woman gets after childbirth. Yes, post-partum is merely “after-birth”.

The p-r-t root is clearly visible in both words.

Caer – Case, Cadaver, Cadence

The Spanish caer, “to fall”, sounds weird to English ears. But it is closer than it sounds to many English words.

Caer comes from the Latin cadere — meaning “to fall, sink, die” — and the middle -d- was lost as Latin grew into Spanish.

From this same Latin root cadere, we get a bunch of English words — mostly that came from the Latin to English via French — including:

  • Cadaver – The most obvious connection is Cadaver, a dead body.
  • Cadence – The cadence of your voice does go up and down!
  • Cadenza – The cadenza is the dramatic falling off of the music at the end!
  • Case (in the sense of, something that happens: a detective’s case or “in case of”; not in the “box” sense) – Case is the least obvious connection. Cadere turned into the Latin casus, meaning “an event, an accident” which then that turned into the more standard, “something that happens.” So, falling/death turned into an accident which turned into something that just happens — talk about words becoming euphemistic over time!

Cosecha and Collect

Cosecha (Spanish for “harvest”) comes from the Latin collectus, meaning, “collected.”

This makes sense: a harvest is, well, just collected.

Although the English collected is almost identical to the Latin, we can see how the Latin changed into the Spanish: the -ll- turned into an -s-, in a curious change. But — as is more common — the -ct- became a -ch- (think nocturnal/noche or octagon/ocho). Thus, the c-ll-ct of collect maps to the c-s-ch of cosecha.

Través and Convert

Través — in the classic phrase, a través de (“going through”) — comes from the Latin transversus, which is just the prefix trans– (“through”) with vertere (“to turn”).

Here is where it gets interesting. From the same root vertere, we get all of the vert– English words, such as: convert, invert, divert, vertebrae. All do involve turning, in one form or another.

This one doesn’t have a mapping that is easy, since only the v- survives, since the trans– lost the -ns- and the r-t-r of vertere disappeared, leaving us with just… v. But we should remember that the v-, and much more often the v-r or v-r-t is just that something is turning, converting into something else.

Alrededor and Round

The Spanish for “around”, alrededor”, comes from the same root as the English “round”: both come from the Latin rota, meaning, “wheel.”

The Spanish is a bit less obvious because of its al- prefix — which was originally a separate word, originally, “al rededor.” Thus, the r-(n)-d of round maps to the (al)-r-d of alrededor.

Moda and Modern

Moda (Spanish for “fashion”… to be fashionable is, de moda) comes from the Latin modo meaning, “just now”: what is fashionable or cool is, definitionally, temporal, for just this one fleeting moment;tomorrow, it will no longer be cool, for tomorrow isn’t now!

From the same root is the English Modernity, definitionally, is thus just what is happening right this very moment.

Leer and Religion

It seems like a paradox: leer (Spanish for, “to read”) is a cousin of religion! But they are actually closely related–despite the too-common belief that religion is thoughtless!

Religion comes from the Latin, re- (“again”) combined with legere (“to read.”) Thus, religion is literally, reading the same thing again and again: a form of reading ritual.

From the Latin legere, the -g- disappears over time and we get the Spanishleer, “to read.”

Thus the r-l-g of religion maps to the l- of leer.

It’s funny that, today, religion and reading are too often seem as opposites. For most of history, the educated classes were the priests and scholars; this is why the old American universities, for example, were predominantly founded by religious groups!

Acatar and Capture

The Spanish Acatar (meaning “to follow, obey, respect”) comes from the Latin captare, meaning “to capture, take hold of”. From that root, we get a few English words, including:

  • Capture — surprise, surprise.
  • Capable — if you’re capable, you take hold of the solutions!
  • Captive — if you’re captive, someone else has taken hold of you!
  • Cater — the caterer is literally the person who takes hold of the food for you.

The c-(p)t root is visible in all, although the -p- in the -pt- has been lost in a few variations.

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