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

Hi­lo and File

The Span­ish hi­lo (cord; thread; string) comes from the Latin for the same, filum. The words sound very dif­fer­ent, un­til we re­mem­ber that, words in Latin that be­gan with a f- tend­ed to change to h- in Span­ish: hi­jo/fil­i­um, and ho­ja/fo­liage, for ex­am­ple. Now the hi­lo/filum make sense!

In­ter­est­ing­ly, how­ev­er, from that same Latin root filum, we get var­i­ous Eng­lish words that al­so qui­et­ly show they are de­scen­dants of the word for cord or thread. In­clud­ing:

  • File (as a verb; to file your nails or pa­pers) — what is fil­ing if not us­ing a thread to short­en or sep­a­rate dif­fer­ent items?
  • Pro­file — With the Latin root pro- (put forth!), what is pro­fil­ing it not draw­ing out or drag­ging out in­for­ma­tion about some­one?

Herir and In­ter­fere

Herir (Span­ish for, “to round”; most com­mon­ly heard in the form, “heri­do”, a wound) is a sur­pris­ing cousin of… in­ter­fere. How so?

In­ter­fere comes to us from the French en­tre- (“be­tween”) and ferir (“to hit”). In­ter­fer­ing with some­thing is re­al­ly just hit­ting it right in the mid­dle of it, break­ing it up! Ferir comes from the Latin, for the same, Ferire.

Cu­ri­ous­ly, Ferire evolved in­to Span­ish Herir — the Ini­tial “F” turn­ing in­to a “H”. It turns out, this is a com­mon pat­tern as Latin evolved in­to Span­ish — but in no oth­er lan­guage! Just look at Fil­ial and Hi­jo, or File and Hi­lo, or Fig and Hi­go.

Thus, the h‑r of herir maps to the (int)-f‑r of in­ter­fere.

Hervir and Fer­vor

Fer­vor is re­al­ly just an in­tense pas­sion heat­ing up. Thus we should­n’t be sur­prised that it comes from the Latin root fer­vere (“to boil”), from which we get the Span­ish for the same (“to boil”), hervir.

The seem­ing­ly un­re­lat­ed words are con­nect­ed through the com­mon trans­for­ma­tion of Latin words be­gin­ning with an f- in­to an h- in Span­ish, such as fig and hi­go, and fa­ble and hablar.

Thus, the f‑r-v of fer­vor maps to the h‑r-v of hervir.

Hacerand Fact

The Eng­lish fact comes from the Latin fac­tum, mean­ing “some­thing that hap­pened.” It is thus an ex­act cog­nate to the Span­ish hac­er, mean­ing “to make.” How?

The root of both is the Latin facere, mean­ing “to do.” Fact, and the Latin fac­tum, is just the same word in a dif­fer­ent tense.

The Latin facere turned in­to the Span­ish hac­er, al­though they su­per­fi­cial­ly sound dif­fer­ent. Their re­la­tion be­comes ob­vi­ous once we re­mem­ber that Latin words that be­gan with an ini­tial f- al­most al­ways turned in­to an ini­tial h- when Latin evolved in­to Span­ish.

There­fore the f‑c-r of facere maps ex­act­ly to the h‑c-r of hac­er.

This pat­tern ex­plains many words such as hi­er­ro/fer­rari, hervir/fever, huir/fugi­tive, ho­ja/fo­liage!

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?

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