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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish »

Haber and Habit, Prohibit

Haber (“to have”, in the grammatical sense, and the root form of he, has, ha, hemos, etc) comes from the Latin for habere, meaning “to hold.”

From the same root, we get the English word habit. What is a habit if not something you hold so dear that you do it all the time? We also get prohibit (the same root with the prefix pro meaning “away”). What is a prohibition if not a habit that you’re trying to stop?

The h‑b root is so obvious in all, it’s almost not worth mentioning. Almost!

Rezar — Recite

Rezar pray spanish english

The Spanish for “to pray” is rezar. Although not obvious at first, it is from the Latin recitare, from which we get the English — surprise, surprise — recite. The “cit” grouping was conflated into a “z” sound, so the English (and Latin) r‑cit‑r maps to the Spanish r‑z-r.

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!

Amar and Mother

The Spanish amar, “to love”, comes from the Latin children’s word amma, meaning, mother.

The m- and m- parallel remains between both.

Interesting, then, the connection between mothers and love is not only ancient but linguistic as well — opposed to the ancient connection between fathers and discipline and harshness.

Valija — Valise

In some of the Spanish words, they say maleta to mean “suitcase.” But in other parts, such as Argentina, they say valija.

Valija, although it sounds different from anything English, actually is quite similar to the almost-forgotten–my grandparents still use it!– English word, that also means “suitcase” , of valise.

Although they sound different, the connection becomes clear if we remember the pattern of the sh- to j- conversion: Latin words that had an sh- sound tended to turn into the j- sound in Spanish. Think of sherry/jerez.

In this case, the French valise entered English unchanged but when the French word was borrowed into Spanish, it was Spanish-ified with the s- sound turning into a j- sound. Thus, the v‑l-s maps to the v‑l-j.

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