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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish » Patterns » Initial F to H »

Es­trel­la Fugaz and Fugi­tive

A “shoot­ing star” in Span­ish is an es­trel­la fugaz. Since es­trel­la means “star”, then fugaz is the par­al­lel to “shoot­ing.”

Fugaz comes from the Latin fugere which means, “to run away; flee” — from which we get the Eng­lish fugi­tive.

The map­ping is ob­vi­ous with the f‑g re­tained in both ver­sions.

Thus, in Span­ish, a shoot­ing star is lit­er­al­ly, a flee­ing star. But flee­ing from what?

Fon­do, Hon­do and Pro­found

From the Latin fun­dus (“bot­tom”), we get the Span­ish fon­do (“back­ground”) and hon­do (“deep”) — as well as the Eng­lish pro­found. Af­ter all, when some­one says some­thing pro­found, well, that’s deep.

The map­ping of the Span­ish f‑n-d (or h‑n-d) to the Eng­lish (pro)-f-n‑d is straight­for­ward. How­ev­er, it’s cu­ri­ous that, in hon­do, the ini­tial F trans­formed from Latin in­to Span­ish to an ini­tial H. This is a com­mon pat­tern, unique to Span­ish, that we see in many Latin words as they trans­formed in­to Span­ish, such as hi­jo and fil­ial, refuse and re­husar, and hi­ga­do and fig.

Hablar and In­ef­fa­ble

The Span­ish hablar (“to talk”) comes from the Latin fab­u­lare, as we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly dis­cussed. The ini­tial F- turned in­to an H‑, as hap­pens on­ly in Span­ish (think fig vs hi­go.)

From the same root, how­ev­er, al­so comes the Eng­lish in­ef­fa­ble, that SAT word mean­ing “un­able to be de­scribed in words.” So, in­ef­fa­ble lit­er­al­ly means “with­out” (in-) and “speak­ing” (fab­u­lare).

We see the h‑b-l of hablar map to the (in-)f‑b-l of in­ef­fa­ble quite clear­ly!

Huir and Fugi­tive

Fugitive huir 3

The Span­ish “Huir” comes from the same Latin root as “fugi­tive”, “fugi­tivus”, mean­ing, “to flee”.

Pat­tern: Latin words that be­gan with an ‘F’ tend­ed to lose that ini­tial ‘F’ sound and be­came silent (yet rep­re­sent­ed in writ­ing with an ‘H’) as vul­gar Latin turned in­to Span­ish.

Hu­so and Fuse

The Span­ish hu­so (“spin­dle” — what Cin­derel­la us­es to weave!) comes from the Latin for the same: fusus.

The tran­si­tion is clear when we re­mem­ber that the ini­tial F in Latin usu­al­ly turned in­to an “h” in Span­ish: fig vs hi­go, for ex­am­ple. Or herir vs in­ter­fere, for an­oth­er.

From the same Latin root fusus, we al­so get the Eng­lish… fuse. Why? Well, look at the shape: an old-school spin­dle looks like a big fuse!

Thus, we can see the f‑s of fuse map clear­ly to the h‑s of hu­so.

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