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

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.

Hablar and Fa­ble

hablar spanish talk
The Span­ish “hablar” (“to talk”) comes from the vul­gar Latin “fab­u­lari”, al­so mean­ing, “to talk” — hence the Eng­lish, “fa­ble”.

This gets very in­ter­est­ing very quick­ly, so note:

  • This is an ex­am­ple of the “f” to “h” con­ver­sion, in which the ini­tial “f” sound was lost as Latin turned in­to Span­ish
  • There was a fas­ci­nat­ing par­al­lel process as vul­gar Latin, a bit to the north, turned in­to French: an­oth­er Latin word for “talk­ing”, “parabo­lari” turned in­to the French for the same, “par­lere”, so “par­ler” (as in, “par­lez-vous fran­cias?”) is re­lat­ed to the Eng­lish word “para­bles”
  • And is­n’t there a con­cep­tu­al sim­i­lar­i­ty be­tween “para­ble” and “fa­ble”? Both meant, “to tell sto­ries”: so, in both lan­guages, an ex­ag­ger­at­ed form of talk­ing, sto­ry-telling, over time turned in­to the com­mon word for talk­ing.

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?

Her­moso and Form

The Span­ish for “beau­ti­ful”, her­mosa, seems un­re­lat­ed to the Eng­lish for the same. Or is it?

Her­mosa comes from the Latin for “beau­ti­ful” for­mo­sus.

We can see this pat­tern be­cause it is an ex­am­ple of the Ini­tial F to H pat­tern, where many Latin words that be­gan with F- turned in­to H- in Span­ish.

Ah­hh, that makes sense: For­mosa, in Ar­genti­na re­al­ly means, “Beau­ti­ful”, and this al­so ex­plains the Por­tuguese for beau­ti­ful (al­so for­mosa) as well: Por­tuguese nev­er lost that ini­tial F.

The Latin for­mo­sus it­self comes from the root for­ma, mean­ing, well, “form”. So, beau­ty, it­self, is just your pure form. At least in 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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