Ducha, Spanish for “shower”, sounds unrelated to the English for the same. But it does have a less obvious cousin in English: duct; both do conduct water, towards a particular direction!
And yes, from the same root we also get, via French, douche, as in, douchebag.
Duct and Ducha both come the same Latin root, ductus, “leading”. More on that one another day.
The transformation happened due to the always-fun pattern of the -ct- words in Latin turning into -ch- words in Spanish. Thus, the d-ct in Latin and English maps almost exactly to the d-ch in Spanish.
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.
The Spanish Decir (“to say”) comes from the Latin dictio for “word”. Its participle form is dicho — and dicho also means “saying”, in the sense of, a cliche.
Thus decir is another example of the “ct” sound in Latin turning into the “ch” sound in Spanish — and is also related to the English word… dictionary.
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.
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).