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

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.

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!

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.

Pe­cho and Pec­toral Gir­dle

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.

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.

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