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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish » Patterns »

Hervir and Fer­vor

Fer­vor is re­al­ly just an in­tense pas­sion heat­ing up. Thus we should­n’t be sur­prised that it comes from the Latin root fer­vere (“to boil”), from which we get the Span­ish for the same (“to boil”), hervir.

The seem­ing­ly un­re­lat­ed words are con­nect­ed through the com­mon trans­for­ma­tion of Latin words be­gin­ning with an f- in­to an h- in Span­ish, such as fig and hi­go, and fa­ble and hablar.

Thus, the f‑r-v of fer­vor maps to the h‑r-v of hervir.

Cor­rer — Horse

The Span­ish cor­rer, “to run” seems com­plete­ly un­re­lat­ed to the Eng­lish horse. Looks can be de­ceiv­ing.

Cor­rer comes from the Latin for the same, cur­rere. Cur­rere, in turn, comes from the Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean root *kurs, which al­so means, “to run” — just like horse does! Both have the same com­mon an­ces­tor.

The weird thing is: how did the PIE *kurs turn in­to horse, they sound so dif­fer­ent.

The ex­pla­na­tion is that, in the Ger­man­ic lan­guages like Eng­lish, the k- sound turned in­to the h- sound. But in Span­ish, the orig­i­nal k- sound re­mained, al­though usu­al­ly writ­ten with a c-.

This ex­plains many par­al­lel words that have c- and h- sounds that map to each oth­er be­tween Span­ish and Eng­lish, like heart/cora­zon and head/cabeza.

Cuer­no and Horns

Cuerno horns spanish english

The Span­ish for “horn”, cuer­no (and its vari­a­tions, like the ever-present cor­nudo), and the Eng­lish horn are both orig­i­nal­ly the same word in the an­cient lan­guages.

Huh?

One of the most in­ter­est­ing sound shifts is the In­do-Eu­ro­pean “k-” sound re­mained the same in­to Latin and then Span­ish (the Latin cor­nu for the same) but be­came an al­most-silent “h-” in the Ger­man­ic lan­guages.

Thus the c‑r-n in Span­ish par­al­lels ex­act­ly the h‑r-n in Eng­lish.

There are lots of awe­some and sub­tle ex­am­ples of this pat­tern, such as Corazon/Heart.

Cannabis — Hemp

To­day is time for what is per­haps my all-time fa­vorite ex­am­ple of how sound pat­terns change over time. Here we go, no more de­lays:

The Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean sound k- changed in­to the h- sound in­to Ger­man (then Eng­lish) — but it re­mained the k- sound (of­ten spelled with c-) in­to Latin then Span­ish. Thus we get many great par­al­lels we’ve dis­cussed be­fore, such as head/cabeza. An­oth­er ex­am­ple of the same pat­tern:

The Eng­lish hemp, for every­one’s fa­vorite weed to smoke. The Span­ish for the same, which we al­so say in Eng­lish, is cannabis.

Now look close­ly: if we re­mem­ber that the h- in the Germanic/English words maps to the c- in Latinate/Spanish words, then it be­comes very clear that the h‑m-p of hemp maps the c‑n-b of cannabis. The m/n and p/b cross and change very eas­i­ly be­tween each oth­er, so those sound changes are much more ob­vi­ous.

Who would’ve thunk!

Hi­jo — Fil­ial, Af­fil­i­ate

The Span­ish for “son”, hi­jo, does­n’t sound like any­thing in Eng­lish. But it is a close cousin of the Eng­lish syn­onym for broth­er­li­ness: fil­ial.

Both come from the Latin for “son,” fil­ius. The trans­for­ma­tion to Span­ish came about through two in­ter­est­ing pat­terns: the ini­tial f- in Latin usu­al­ly turned in­to an h- in Span­ish (such as, hac­er and fact, or hablar and fa­ble). The oth­er pat­tern is less com­mon: the ‑li- sound turned in­to a ‑j- sound — it’s just a less com­mon sound! Thus the f‑li maps to h‑j al­most ex­act­ly.

From the Latin fil­ius, we get a few oth­er Eng­lish words, in­clud­ing: af­fil­i­ate: an af­fil­i­ate is, in a way, a child you rear!

From the same root we al­so get the Eng­lish fe­tus, fe­cund and even fem­i­nine. These come, via the Latin fil­ius, from the Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean root *dʰe­h₁y-li-os, mean­ing, “suck­er” — in the lit­er­al sense of, “one who sucks.” Chil­dren, in­deed, are de­fined by their suck­ing their moth­ers; so your hi­jo is lit­er­al­ly, “the one who sucks.” And, some might ar­gue, even af­fil­i­ates them­selves usu­al­ly do suck!

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