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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish »

Hue­so and Oys­ter

Hue­so (Span­ish for “bone”) comes from the Latin for the same, os. The con­nec­tion is par­tic­u­lar­ly easy to see when we re­mem­ber that the H- is per­fect­ly silent in Span­ish.

From the same root we get the Eng­lish os­si­fy — lit­er­al­ly, to turn in­to bone! — but, con­sid­er­ing about 4 peo­ple know this word, it is easy to re­mem­ber hue­so if we con­nect it to an­oth­er word it is re­lat­ed to, al­beit more dis­tant­ly: oys­ter.

Oys­ter comes from the Latin for the same, Os­treum, which it­self comes from the Latin word os, “bone.” What is an oys­ter de­fined by, if not, its hard, bony shell?

The o‑s root is clear­ly vis­i­ble in all vari­a­tions!

Lá­gri­ma and Lacrimal Sac

The Span­ish lá­gri­ma (“tear”) comes from the Latin Lacrima, mean­ing the same.

From the same root we get the Eng­lish… lacrimal sac. In case you for­got our high school bi­ol­o­gy class, that’s the bit by your eye that cre­ates… tears.

The l‑c-r of lacrimal sac maps to the l‑g-r of lá­gri­ma.

Ducha — Duct, Douche

Ducha, Span­ish for “show­er”, sounds un­re­lat­ed to the Eng­lish for the same. But it does have a less ob­vi­ous cousin in Eng­lish: duct; both do con­duct wa­ter, to­wards a par­tic­u­lar di­rec­tion!

And yes, from the same root we al­so get, via French, douche, as in, douchebag.

Duct and Ducha both come the same Latin root, duc­tus, “lead­ing”. More on that one an­oth­er day.

The trans­for­ma­tion hap­pened due to the al­ways-fun pat­tern of the ‑ct- words in Latin turn­ing in­to ‑ch- words in Span­ish. Thus, the d‑ct in Latin and Eng­lish maps al­most ex­act­ly to the d‑ch in Span­ish.

Hacerand Fact

The Eng­lish fact comes from the Latin fac­tum, mean­ing “some­thing that hap­pened.” It is thus an ex­act cog­nate to the Span­ish hac­er, mean­ing “to make.” How?

The root of both is the Latin facere, mean­ing “to do.” Fact, and the Latin fac­tum, is just the same word in a dif­fer­ent tense.

The Latin facere turned in­to the Span­ish hac­er, al­though they su­per­fi­cial­ly sound dif­fer­ent. Their re­la­tion be­comes ob­vi­ous once we re­mem­ber that Latin words that be­gan with an ini­tial f- al­most al­ways turned in­to an ini­tial h- when Latin evolved in­to Span­ish.

There­fore the f‑c-r of facere maps ex­act­ly to the h‑c-r of hac­er.

This pat­tern ex­plains many words such as hi­er­ro/fer­rari, hervir/fever, huir/fugi­tive, ho­ja/fo­liage!

Pre­gun­ta and Count

Pre­gun­ta (Span­ish for “ques­tion”) comes from the Latin per- (“through”) and con­tus (“pole”).

From the Latin root con­tus, we al­so get the Eng­lish… count. But how do we get from “pole” to “count­ing”? Well, re­mem­ber the Ro­man style of count­ing that you prob­a­bly learned in el­e­men­tary school, or at least I did back in the day — make a lit­tle pole on the pa­per for each num­ber, and when you hit the fifth one, cross it through; then re­peat — and we then re­mem­ber that count­ing is re­al­ly just lin­ing up sticks to rep­re­sent the to­tal num­bers!

We can see that the g‑n-t of pre­gun­ta maps to the c‑n-t of count.


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