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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.

Eje and Axle

The Spanish eje for “axle” comes from the Latin for the same, axis. The English axle comes from the same common ancestor as the Latin axis, the proto-indo-european root *aks- also meaning the same.

The Spanish eje is easy to understand if we remember that most of the x/sh/ch sounds in Latin and the ancient languages became the throat-clearing ‑j- sound in Spanish. Thus, the e‑j of eje maps to the a‑x of axle pretty clearly.

It’s interesting how such a simple word has remained mostly unchanged for tens of thousands of years. Perhaps, the axle is one of the most fundamental discoveries in human history. It is, after all, what led to the wheel, which led to… civilization.

Temor and Timothy

Temor (Spanish for “fear”) comes from the Latin for the same, timor.

From this root, we also get the English name… Timothy. The ‑thy ending comes from the Greek theo-, meaning, “God” — so Timothy is literally, one who is scared of God.

From the same root, we also get the less common… temerity, which just means “boldness”: and what is being bold if not, not having any fear?

Ligar and Allegiance

Allegiance is a very Roman idea: strong loyalty to your team, your empire.

So it’s not surprising that the word itself comes from the Latin, ligare — to bind. Your allegiance is what binds you or ties you to your team.

From the Latin ligare, we get the Spanish… ligar, meaning the same, tying or binding!

Thus, the l‑g root is clearly visible in both versions.

Cambiare and Change

Cambiar and the English for the same, change, both come from the same root: cambiare, Latin, also meaning change.

Although this may not be obvious at first, we can see the mapping in the c‑m-b of cambiar and the ch-n‑g of change. The ‑m- and ‑n- are often interchanged; and the ‑g- and ‑b- both have that soft sound where you can hear how one can easily turn into the other, although it is a bit less common.

Why did the c- of the Latin turn into the ch- in change? Oh, easy: because it came to English via the French! And French has it own sets of patterns of course!

Tornar and Tornado

Tornar (“to turn”) has given us directly an English word: tornado. A tornado turns, doesn’t it? Since this word came into English directly from Spanish — the word is unchanged from its Spanish participle form. We can see the t‑r root clearly in all. And, if we go back a bit further, both words are also related to the English… turn.

Hablar and Ineffable

The Spanish hablar (“to talk”) comes from the Latin fabulare, as we’ve previously discussed. The initial F- turned into an H‑, as happens only in Spanish (think fig vs higo.)

From the same root, however, also comes the English ineffable, that SAT word meaning “unable to be described in words.” So, ineffable literally means “without” (in-) and “speaking” (fabulare).

We see the h‑b-l of hablar map to the (in-)f‑b-l of ineffable quite clearly!

Vinculo and Province

The Spanish vínculo (which we’ve previously discussed) comes from the Latin vincere — “to conquer.” (We previously reviewed the Proto-Indo-European root, which gave us the Latin word; the Latin is the intermediary word between the PIE and the English!).

From that same root, we also get.… province (along with the prefix pro-, “before.”)

But how did “conquer” evolve into these words? Province is easy: a province is literally, land you’ve conquered!

And that helps explain vínculo: somewhere you conquer, you make a deep connection with that place. Even turning it into a province.

We can clearly see the v‑n-c root in both words.

Gustar — Disgust, Gusto

The common Spanish word gustar (to like — actually, literally, “to be pleasing to”) sounds completely different from the English “like” and “pleasing.” But it is close to the English than it seems.

It comes from the same gustare, meaning, “to taste.” Interestingly, as the Latin turned into Spanish, the word became more euphemistic: to “taste” turned into to “like”, which is much better.

From the same Latin root we also get the similar English words:

  • Disgust — The Latin dis- means to dislike (dis-like!), so disgust is literally the opposite of gustar: to not gustar!
  • Gusto — To do something with gusto is to do it with enthusiasm. And enthusiasm is just a manifestation of liking or being pleasing — you only do something with gusto if you really like it!

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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