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.
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!
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.
The Spanish for “chest”, pecho, sounds completely different than the English chest.
But it is related to the English word for the chest bones: the Pectoral Girdle.
The relationship is the Latin ‑ct- words transforming into ‑ch- as Latin turned into Spanish. Thus, the pect- maps to pech- exactly. The English word, on the other hand, is taken — unchanged — directly from the Latin.
Also from the same root, in Spanish, es pechuga — the common word for the common food, “chicken breast”!
The same pattern we see in noche/nocturnal, leche/lactose, etc.
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.