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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish » Patterns » CT to CH »

Sospe­choso — Sus­pect

Sus­pect and the Span­ish equiv­a­lent, sospe­choso, are easy to iden­ti­fy and ob­vi­ous­ly the same word, both from the same Latin root, sus­pec­tus.

That’s not the in­ter­est­ing part. Rather, as Latin evolved in­to Span­ish, the Latin sound ‑ct- turned in­to the Span­ish ‑ch- sound. Think lac­tose/leche or oc­ta­gon/ocho.

And sus­pect falls ex­act­ly in­to this pat­tern: the Eng­lish s‑s-p-ct maps ex­act­ly to the Span­ish s‑s-p-ch.

Leche — Lac­tose

Ah, one of our all-time fa­vorite pat­terns and ex­am­ples: leche, the com­mon Span­ish word mean­ing, “milk.”

Leche is a first cousin of the Eng­lish lac­tose via a very in­ter­est­ing pat­tern: the ‑ct- to ‑ch- pat­tern.

Both come from the same Latin root, lac­ta­tio (lit­er­al­ly, “suck­ling.”) The ‑ct- in that root re­mained un­changed as it en­tered Eng­lish (be­cause it en­tered via the so­phis­ti­cat­ed French) but that sound al­most al­ways turned in­to a ‑ch- sound as Latin evolved in­to Span­ish. Thus the l‑ct maps to the l‑ch al­most ex­act­ly.

Many oth­er awe­some words fol­low the same pat­tern: think octagon/ocho, for ex­am­ple. Some more com­ing up soon (or see the pat­tern page linked be­low).

Re­luc­tant and Luchar

Luchar, Span­ish for “to fight”, does­n’t sound like its cousin re­luc­tant — al­though of course every­one is re­luc­tant to fight. But the re­la­tion­ship is clos­er than it seems.

Re­luc­tant comes from the Latin roots re- (“against”) and luc­tari (“to fight”). Re­luc­tance is to fight against what should be done — lit­er­al­ly.

From luc­tari, we al­so get the Span­ish for ex­act­ly the same, “to fight.”

But they don’t sound sim­i­lar. How did luchar evolve?

In­ter­est­ing­ly, in most Latin words that had a ‑ct- sound, this ‑ct- sound evolved in­to ‑ch- as Latin evolved in­to Span­ish. Think about night/noche and eight/oc­ta­gon. The same pat­tern ex­plains luc­tari turn­ing in­to luchar.

We see this re­la­tion­ship clear­ly with the l‑ct to l‑ch map­ping be­tween the two.

Pre­de­cir — Pre­dict, Dic­tion

An easy way to re­mem­ber the Span­ish de­cir (to say) is through the word pre­dict.

Pre­dict is, lit­er­al­ly, pre — de­cir — to say be­fore­hand. Pre means “be­fore” and the dict- maps al­most ex­act­ly to the Span­ish de­cir.

How come the de­cir has an ex­tra ‑t in it to be predict? Be­cause the Latin pre­de­cire took the gram­mat­i­cal form of pred­i­ca­tus and this form grew in­to Eng­lish (via the French in­flu­ence). A pre­dic­tion in Span­ish, af­ter all, is pre­dicho!

Thus, it is a cousin of many Eng­lish words such as dic­tion and dic­tio­nary.

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”!

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