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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish »

Volar and Vol­ley, Volatile

Volar (Span­ish for “to fly”) and its sis­ter vue­lo (“flight”) come from the Latin for the same, volare.

From this Latin root, we get the Eng­lish vol­ley — a vol­ley­ball re­al­ly does fly, does­n’t it? — as well as the Eng­lish volatile, which is some­thing fly­ing in the sense of be­ing fleet­ing: it is fly­ing away, time flies.

The v‑l root is so ob­vi­ous in all, that it’s al­most not worth men­tion­ing!

Miel and Mel­liflu­ous

The Span­ish for “hon­ey,” miel, comes from the Latin mel — al­so mean­ing hon­ey. We can see the m‑l root ob­vi­ous­ly and sim­ply in both!

(The -flu­ous end­ing comes from the Latin fluere, mean­ing “to flow” — and we can al­so see the f‑l root there!)

So, mel­liflu­ous words are… flow­ing like hon­ey.

Ayu­dar and Young

Al­though ayu­dar (Span­ish for “to help”) sounds lit­tle like the Eng­lish “young”, both have the same great-grand­fa­ther.

Ayu­dar comes from the Latin adi­utare al­so mean­ing “to help”, which in turn comes from ad- (mean­ing “to­wards”) and iu­ve­nis, mean­ing “young”. To help, af­ter all, is — at its core — what those with strength (the young) do for the el­der­ly and those who can’t help them­selves. Iu­ve­nis is of­ten writ­ten with the mod­ern Latin-ish spelling of Ju­ve­nis — ah­hh! Think Ju­ve­nal!

The Latin iu­ve­nis comes from the Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean root *yeu-, which means “youth, strength”. From that root we get the Ger­man­ic jun­gas, from which we get the Eng­lish young.

So youth, seem­ing­ly every­where, is strong­ly tied to strength; and strength is tied to help­ing those who need it.

Noche — Noc­tur­nal

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The Span­ish for “night”, noche, is re­lat­ed (via the com­mon Latin an­ces­tor) noc­tur­nal.

Here’s the in­ter­est­ing part: the Latin sound “ct” con­sis­tent­ly changed to the “ch” sound in Span­ish. Think “lac­tose” and “leche”, or “oc­ta­gon” and “ocho”. And this is an­oth­er ex­am­ple of that pat­tern: the “ct” in “noc­tur­nal” is the same as the “ch” in “noche”!

Za­p­a­to and Sab­o­tage

No one quite knows the ori­gin of za­p­a­to, Span­ish for “shoe.” But the same word — or words from the same root — are still used in Por­tuguese, French, Ital­ian, and even Ara­bic and, most shock­ing of all, Basque (shock­ing since Basque is un­re­lat­ed to any oth­er known lan­guage).

Most in­ter­est­ing, though, is that from the old French for shoe, sa­vate, which is from the same root as za­p­a­to as we can see with the z‑p to s‑v map­ping, do we get the Eng­lish, sab­o­tage.

In­deed, they say sab­o­tage comes from the word for “shoe” since French work­ers used to throw their (wood­en) shoes in­to ma­chin­ery in or­der to sab­o­tage their fac­to­ry.


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