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).
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 Derecho — Spanish 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.
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.
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 hechizo (“spell”; nothing to do with the letters in words, but what a witch casts on you!) comes from the Latin facticius (“made by art”; “artificial” — indeed, that which is artificial is just something not occurring naturally but instead made by art!).
But how did artificial change to mean “spell”? Think about it this way: casting a spell goes against nature — it’s what the wicked, crazy and profoundly unnatural woman does! Think of the three weird sisters in Macbeth, and how they unnaturally stir up all the elements!
From hechizo (more specifically, from it’s Portuguese twin cognate, feitiço), we get the English fetish. How? Well, you have a fetish when the recipient casts a spell on you to become obsessed with the object of your fetish, right? Enough said!
That root facticius turned into hechizo by changing via two common patterns: the initial F in Latin tended to turn into an H as Latin turned into Spanish (compare fig and higo, or fume and humo!) and the -ct- tended to change to a -ch- (compare noche and noctural; or ocho and octagon). Thus the h-ch of hechizo maps to the f-sh of fetish.