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En­con­trar — Ac­quaint

Al­though en­con­trar, the com­mon Span­ish word for “to meet”, does­n’t sound like its Eng­lish coun­ter­part, it does have an un­ex­pect­ed first cousin: ac­quaint.

Both come from the same Latin root for the same (in con­tra), al­though the Eng­lish one comes to us via the French in­flu­ence: acoin­tier.

Thus, we can see that the en-c-n-t‑r maps to a‑c­qu-n‑t some­what close­ly: the fi­nal -r dis­ap­peared as the French word evolved in­to the Eng­lish word, and the open­ing en- (in- in Latin) be­came the sim­pler a-.

Some­one you meet, af­ter all, is in­deed your ac­quain­tance.

There is, how­ev­er, an­oth­er Eng­lish word that is clos­er to en­con­trar al­though per­haps less ob­vi­ous un­til you hear it: en­counter!

Morder — Re­morse

The Span­ish morder, “to bite”, sounds com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent than any­thing in Eng­lish (ex­cept for ob­scure SAT words like mor­dant — which lit­er­al­ly means, bit­ing!).

But who would’ve thunk that it’s re­lat­ed to re­morse.

Re­morse comes from the Latin re­mordere, which means, “to bite back” — from the ear­li­er re- (the pre­fix mean­ing “back” in this case) and mordere, from which we get, morder.

The re­morse­ful do bite back in­deed!

Aprovecharse and Prof­it

The Span­ish aprovecharse (“to take ad­van­tage of,” in a good way) comes from the Latin ad- (“to­wards”) and pro­fec­tus (“progress, suc­cess.”)

From the same root pro­fec­tus, we get the Eng­lish… prof­it.

We can see the root pr‑v of aprovecharse map­ping to the pr‑f of prof­it. And how do you make a prof­it if not, tak­ing ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties in front of you?

Pere­jil and Pars­ley

Pere­jil and its Eng­lish ver­sion pars­ley sound very dif­fer­ent. But they are, ac­tu­al­ly, et­y­mo­log­i­cal­ly the same word.

They sound dif­fer­ent be­cause of­ten the ‑s- and ‑sh- sounds in Span­ish turned in­to the let­ter ‑j- with the Ara­bic throat clear­ing sound as a pro­nun­ci­a­tion. Thus, the p‑r-j‑l of pere­jil maps ex­act­ly to the p‑r-s‑l of pars­ley.

Nom­bre and Nom­i­nal

The usu­al Span­ish word for “name”, nom­bre, is very close­ly re­lat­ed to the Eng­lish word nom­i­nal, in an in­ter­est­ing way. Not on­ly does nom­i­nal­ly mean “re­lat­ing to the name”, but there is an in­ter­est­ing et­y­mo­log­i­cal pat­tern be­tween the words.

Latin words with an m‑n sound usu­al­ly turned the m‑n in­to an mbr sound as Latin evolved in­to Span­ish. Thus, we see cu­ri­ous pat­terns like hominem be­com­ing hom­bre, and famine and ham­bre be­ing close­ly linked.

The same pat­tern ap­plies here. The Latin nom­i­nalis turned in­to the Span­ish nom­bre and the Eng­lish nom­i­nal — thus the n‑m-n of nom­i­nal maps ex­act­ly to the n‑mbr of nom­bre!


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