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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish »

Dar and Man­date, Tra­di­tion

The com­mon Span­ish word dar (“to give”) comes from the Latin for the same, dare.

From the Latin root, we get the Eng­lish… man­date (“to give with your hand” — thus re­lat­ed to mano as well): what is a man­date if not a writ­ten or­der to give to some­one? The best man­dates are when you de­liv­er them your­self any­way, not through in­ter­me­di­aries. The dare con­nec­tion ex­plains where the ‑d- af­ter the hand comes from!

An­oth­er Eng­lish word from the same root: tra­di­tion. That word comes from the Latin tradere, lit­er­al­ly, “to hand over” — the tra- is the same trans- root (“over”), while the dere is the same “give.” In to­day’s way of walk­ing, we’d say that tra­di­tion is what is hand­ed down to us: it is what is giv­en to us. Lit­er­al­ly. ANd you can see the ‑d- in the word from dare as well clear­ly!

Hervir and Fer­vor

Fer­vor is re­al­ly just an in­tense pas­sion heat­ing up. Thus we should­n’t be sur­prised that it comes from the Latin root fer­vere (“to boil”), from which we get the Span­ish for the same (“to boil”), hervir.

The seem­ing­ly un­re­lat­ed words are con­nect­ed through the com­mon trans­for­ma­tion of Latin words be­gin­ning with an f- in­to an h- in Span­ish, such as fig and hi­go, and fa­ble and hablar.

Thus, the f‑r-v of fer­vor maps to the h‑r-v of hervir.

Ten­er — Tenet, ‑tain

Hold tener spanish english

The Span­ish ten­er (to hold) comes from the Latin tenere for the same.

From the same root tenere, we get the Eng­lish tenet — think about it, you hold your be­liefs.

And it gets even bet­ter: from tenere, we al­so get the Eng­lish suf­fix ‑tain, as in main­tain, sus­tain, con­tain, de­tain, ob­tain, and en­ter­tain. And the -tain words map al­most iden­ti­cal­ly to the Span­ish suf­fix of the same, the same -ten­er!

For ex­am­ple, mano, the Span­ish for hand, is the same mano in main­tain (or man­ten­er, in Span­ish) — which thus lit­er­al­ly means, “to hold in your hand”!

Cor­rer — Horse

The Span­ish cor­rer, “to run” seems com­plete­ly un­re­lat­ed to the Eng­lish horse. Looks can be de­ceiv­ing.

Cor­rer comes from the Latin for the same, cur­rere. Cur­rere, in turn, comes from the Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean root *kurs, which al­so means, “to run” — just like horse does! Both have the same com­mon an­ces­tor.

The weird thing is: how did the PIE *kurs turn in­to horse, they sound so dif­fer­ent.

The ex­pla­na­tion is that, in the Ger­man­ic lan­guages like Eng­lish, the k- sound turned in­to the h- sound. But in Span­ish, the orig­i­nal k- sound re­mained, al­though usu­al­ly writ­ten with a c-.

This ex­plains many par­al­lel words that have c- and h- sounds that map to each oth­er be­tween Span­ish and Eng­lish, like heart/cora­zon and head/cabeza.

Cuer­no and Horns

Cuerno horns spanish english

The Span­ish for “horn”, cuer­no (and its vari­a­tions, like the ever-present cor­nudo), and the Eng­lish horn are both orig­i­nal­ly the same word in the an­cient lan­guages.


One of the most in­ter­est­ing sound shifts is the In­do-Eu­ro­pean “k-” sound re­mained the same in­to Latin and then Span­ish (the Latin cor­nu for the same) but be­came an al­most-silent “h-” in the Ger­man­ic lan­guages.

Thus the c‑r-n in Span­ish par­al­lels ex­act­ly the h‑r-n in Eng­lish.

There are lots of awe­some and sub­tle ex­am­ples of this pat­tern, such as Corazon/Heart.


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