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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.

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.

Man­cha and Im­mac­u­late

The Span­ish man­cha (“spot” or “stain”) comes from the Latin for the same, mac­u­la.

From the Latin mac­u­la, we get the Eng­lish… im­mac­u­late — which lit­er­al­ly means (know­ing the nega­tion pre­fix of im-) “with­out a stain.” So the im­mac­u­late con­cep­tion tru­ly was per­fect!

How this sound changed was in­ter­est­ing: of­ten Latin words with a ct- or cl- or oth­er hard let­ters af­ter a c- sound turn in­to a suave ch in Span­ish. For a dis­tant ex­am­ple, see duct and ducha, or noc­tur­nal and noche. (The ct- is much more com­mon than the cl‑, but they’re cousins!) Thus, we can see the m‑ch of man­cha map­ping to the (im-)m‑cl of im­mac­u­late.

Dere­cho and Di­rect

Derecho direct spanish english

The law and the good, in Eu­ro­pean lan­guages, are as­so­ci­at­ed with straight lines; the bad with the crooked. Think about the word crooked it­self, lit­er­al­ly! Or about right/rec­tan­gle, or the Greek or­tho- for straight, hence, or­tho­dox as well as or­tho­don­tics.

This is why it makes sense that Dere­choSpan­ish for straight and al­so for law — comes from the same Latin root that gives us di­rect.

The “ct” in the orig­i­nal di­rect turned in­to a “ch” in Span­ish, in the usu­al pat­tern of “ct” turn­ing in­to “ch” as Latin grew in­to Span­ish.

Ocho and Oc­ta­gon

The Latin for “eight” is Oc­to, from which we get the Eng­lish Oc­ta­gon.

Since most Latin words with a ‑ct- sound, like Oc­to, had the ‑ct- turn in­to a ‑ch- as the lan­guage evolved in­to Span­ish, it is no sur­prise that eight in Span­ish is ocho.

This same pat­tern man­i­fests it­self in noche/noc­tur­nal, leche/lac­tose, and is one of our fa­vorite pat­terns here at ForNerds!

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