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

Hal­lar and Flat­u­lence

The Span­ish hal­lar (“to find”) comes from the Latin af­flare (“to blow.”) From that same Latin root we get var­i­ous f‑l words in­volv­ing blow­ing, in­clud­ing:

  • Flat­u­lence — A fart, af­ter all, is just blow­ing some air!
  • Souf­fle — With the French pre­fix sous- (“un­der”), a souf­fle is cooked by blow­ing hot air un­der the foot!
  • Con­flate — To blow dif­fer­ent things to­geth­er!
  • In­flate — To blow-up the num­bers!

All of these share the f‑l root. But how did this turn in­to the Span­ish hal­lar? Well, first re­mem­ber that the ini­tial F- sound tend­ed to dis­ap­pear when Latin turned in­to Span­ish; see, fig and hi­go or fa­ble and hablar. Sec­ond­ly, note that find­ing some­thing is just blow­ing on it, un­cov­er­ing what was be­low the dust you blew away!

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.

Hi­jo — Fil­ial, Af­fil­i­ate

The Span­ish for “son”, hi­jo, does­n’t sound like any­thing in Eng­lish. But it is a close cousin of the Eng­lish syn­onym for broth­er­li­ness: fil­ial.

Both come from the Latin for “son,” fil­ius. The trans­for­ma­tion to Span­ish came about through two in­ter­est­ing pat­terns: the ini­tial f- in Latin usu­al­ly turned in­to an h- in Span­ish (such as, hac­er and fact, or hablar and fa­ble). The oth­er pat­tern is less com­mon: the ‑li- sound turned in­to a ‑j- sound — it’s just a less com­mon sound! Thus the f‑li maps to h‑j al­most ex­act­ly.

From the Latin fil­ius, we get a few oth­er Eng­lish words, in­clud­ing: af­fil­i­ate: an af­fil­i­ate is, in a way, a child you rear!

From the same root we al­so get the Eng­lish fe­tus, fe­cund and even fem­i­nine. These come, via the Latin fil­ius, from the Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean root *dʰe­h₁y-li-os, mean­ing, “suck­er” — in the lit­er­al sense of, “one who sucks.” Chil­dren, in­deed, are de­fined by their suck­ing their moth­ers; so your hi­jo is lit­er­al­ly, “the one who sucks.” And, some might ar­gue, even af­fil­i­ates them­selves usu­al­ly do suck!

Hervir and Fever

Hervir boil spanish english

Hervir (Span­ish for, “to boil”) comes from the Latin fer­vere (“to be hot, burn, boil”).

The best part: from this same root, we al­so get the Eng­lish… fever!

This is thus an­oth­er ex­am­ple of the pat­tern where Span­ish lost the ini­tial F and re­placed it with the (un­spo­ken) “H”: Ho­ja-Fo­liage, Huir-Fugi­tive, etc.

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!


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