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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish » Patterns »

Hi­lo and File

The Span­ish hi­lo (cord; thread; string) comes from the Latin for the same, filum. The words sound very dif­fer­ent, un­til we re­mem­ber that, words in Latin that be­gan with a f- tend­ed to change to h- in Span­ish: hi­jo/fil­i­um, and ho­ja/fo­liage, for ex­am­ple. Now the hi­lo/filum make sense!

In­ter­est­ing­ly, how­ev­er, from that same Latin root filum, we get var­i­ous Eng­lish words that al­so qui­et­ly show they are de­scen­dants of the word for cord or thread. In­clud­ing:

  • File (as a verb; to file your nails or pa­pers) — what is fil­ing if not us­ing a thread to short­en or sep­a­rate dif­fer­ent items?
  • Pro­file — With the Latin root pro- (put forth!), what is pro­fil­ing it not draw­ing out or drag­ging out in­for­ma­tion about some­one?

Jarabe — Syrup

Syrup jarabe english spanish

The Span­ish for syrup, jarabe, comes from the same root as the Eng­lish: the Persian/Arabic sharab, which means “a drink, or wine”.

The dras­ti­cal­ly dif­fer­ent (at least su­per­fi­cial­ly) words are ex­plained by the sh- and re­lat­ed (such as, sy- ) sounds chang­ing to the Ara­bic-sound­ing j- sound in Span­ish — but not Eng­lish.

Thus, the j‑r-b of jarabe maps to the sy-r‑p of syrup.

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Corazón and Heart

So, this is one of my per­son­al all-time fa­vorite et­y­molo­gies. Just sayin’.

The Span­ish for “heart,” corazón, and the Eng­lish heart it­self, both come from the same orig­i­nal root.

Huh? How? But they’re so dif­fer­ent!

Both come from the Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean *kerd-, mean­ing the same. The key to un­der­stand­ing this one is re­mem­ber­ing the pat­tern that the k- sounds from PIE tend­ed to re­main the same in Latin, but changed to the h- sound as it evolved in­to Ger­man and then Eng­lish. Take, for ex­am­ple, hun­dred/cen­tu­ry, for ex­am­ple.

Thus, the h‑r-t of heart maps to the c‑r-z of corazón.

From the same root is… courage. yup, that c‑r is the same c‑r. So courage is in­deed some­thing that comes from the heart.

Jerez — Sher­ry

Sherry jerez spanish englishThe Latin sounds for “sh” — and sim­i­lar vari­a­tions, like “ch” and “ss” — be­came a “j” sound in Span­ish.

Thus, the Eng­lish sher­ry is near iden­ti­cal to the Span­ish jerez!

These sh/j sounds were of­ten spelt with a “x” in old Span­ish; and sher­ry it­self is named af­ter the town it first came from, Xeres, which is near Cor­do­va.

Eno­jar and An­noy

Eno­jar, Span­ish for “to get an­gry”, has a fun cousin in the Eng­lish, an­noy.

Both of these (along with the French for “world­ly bore­dom”, en­nui) come from the Latin in­odi­are, mean­ing, “to hate”. The Latin in- adds em­pha­sis to the odi­um, Latin for “hate”.

We can see the par­al­lels in all with the open vow­el, fol­lowed by the ‑n-, fol­lowed by a ‑y- sound, al­though in Span­ish the ‑y- sounds (and its cor­re­spond­ing ‑x- and ‑sh- vari­a­tions) of­ten turned in­to the ‑j- sounds, as it did here. Thus, the a‑n-y maps to the e‑n-j.

Ha­tred, then, dis­si­pates and weak­ens over time. In Eng­lish, ha­tred weak­ens in­to mere an­noy­ance. In Span­ish, ha­tred weak­ens in­to just anger, eno­jo. And, best of all, ha­tred in French weak­ens in­to a world-weary bore­dom of en­nui.

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