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

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.

Noche — Nocturnal

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The Spanish for “night”, noche, is related (via the common Latin ancestor) nocturnal.

Here’s the interesting part: the Latin sound “ct” consistently changed to the “ch” sound in Spanish. Think “lactose” and “leche”, or “octagon” and “ocho”. And this is another example of that pattern: the “ct” in “nocturnal” is the same as the “ch” in “noche”!

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.

Derecho and Direct

Derecho direct spanish english

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 DerechoSpanish 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.

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