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.
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).
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.
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.
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”!