The “W” sound is a classic Germanic and Anglo-saxon sound. Harsh, it is.
Interestingly, the Germanic and English words with the w- become the gu- sound as these words evolved into Spanish. Yes, in this case, the Germanic and English words — centuries ago — made its way back into Spanish rather than the more common pattern of vice-versa!
One example: the name William maps to the Spanish name… Guillermo. I first discovered this because I was once in a bookstore in Buenos Aires and there was a book “Enrique IV” by “Guillermo Shakespeare”. I needed about a minute to figure out what was happening (Enrique is Spanish for Henry).
Mezcla (Spanish for “mix”) comes from the Latin miscere, meaning, “to mix.” You can envision the sound change when you remember that the ‑sc- sound sounds and even looks like the letter ‑zc-!
From the same Latin root miscere we get the English, promiscuous — just miscere with the emphasis prefix pro-, so it literally means “to mix indiscriminately.” What does a promiscuous girl (or, ummm, guy) do if not mix with anyone without discriminating between them that much?
The m‑z-c of mezcla clearly maps to the m‑s-c of promiscuous.
The Spanish for “car”, coche, on the surface sounds nothing like the English for the same — or any similar word.
But etymologically, it comes from the same root as the English, coach. Think of it in the old-fashioned sense of: the coach class on a train!
All come from the same root: the Hungarian kocsi (Hungarian is unrelated to English or Spanish, so there is no deeper root), named after the village where the first coach, in the very old sense — a large carriage — was created.
It’s interesting how coach has been downgraded as a word in English: it was first the luxurious way to travel, and now it is the economy class of a train.
Través — in the classic phrase, a través de (“going through”) — comes from the Latin transversus, which is just the prefix trans- (“through”) with vertere (“to turn”).
Here is where it gets interesting. From the same root vertere, we get all of the vert- English words, such as: convert, invert, divert, vertebrae. All do involve turning, in one form or another.
This one doesn’t have a mapping that is easy, since only the v- survives, since the trans- lost the ‑ns- and the r‑t-r of vertere disappeared, leaving us with just… v. But we should remember that the v‑, and much more often the v‑r or v‑r-t is just that something is turning, converting into something else.
Insolent derives from the Latin prefix in- (meaning, “the opposite of,” of course) and the Latin root solere, meaning, “to be used to (doing something).” So, an insolent man is literally someone who is used to not doing the things he is expected to do. That sounds pretty insolent to me!
From the same Latin root, we get the Spanish soler meaning “to be used to (doing something)” just like the original Latin root, before the negation. So next time you hear in Spanish, Suelo… (“I’m used to…”) you should think, “Don’t be insolent!”. No one will get the pun other than you, me, and our fellow ForNerds fans.
Note that this has no relation to the Spanish suelo meaning, “ground”, which comes from the Latin solum.