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

Decir/Dicho and Dic­tio­nary

Dictionary decir spanish english

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.

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.

Leche — Lac­tose

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).

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.

Sospe­choso — Sus­pect

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.

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