Today’s is a good one!
The Spanish caro (simply, “expensive”) has a fun provenance: from the ancient (pre-Latin) Proto-Indo-European root karo– that meant… whore. Yes, the ancient word karo turned into the almost-as-ancient Latin word carus meaning “expensive,” from which we get the modern Spanish word caro, still meaning “expensive.”
So the prostitutes of the ancient world, apparently, weren’t cheap!
Interestingly, we can even see a linguistic connection between the words. The k- sound in Proto-Indo-European stayed the same sound as it evolved into Latin and then Spanish (although usually written with a c-); but as Proto-Indo-European evolved simultaneously into ancient German and then into English, that k- sound became the silent or almost-silent h- or wh-. Think when and cuando, for example. So, we can see therefore that the c-r of caro maps to the wh-r of whore.
The funniest part, however, is that the ancient Latin carus, for expensive, as Latin evolved into French, turned into the French… cher, for “dear”: in the sense of, “My dear friend!”. The exact opposite of a whore! Thus, in French, prostitute became expensive which became that which is dear to you!
The Spanish for “horn”, cuerno (and its variations, like the ever-present cornudo), and the English horn are both originally the same word in the ancient languages.
One of the most interesting sound shifts is the Indo-European “k-” sound remained the same into Latin and then Spanish (the Latin cornu for the same) but became an almost-silent “h-” in the Germanic languages.
Thus the c-r-n in Spanish parallels exactly the h-r-n in English.
There are lots of awesome and subtle examples of this pattern, such as Corazon/Heart.
The Indo-European root kaput, meaning “head”, led to words for the head in almost every western language, with no change.
The kaput turned into the almost-identical caput in Latin; and then that evolved, through very minor changes, to the almost-the-same cabeza in Spanish. The main sound shift is the p to b, but those are very clearly aligned signs that often swap.
Kaput, however, evolved into the German kopf — which then became the English head. How so?
The Germanic sound “k-“, as German evolved into English, generally became the “h-” sound in English. Take century/hundred or horn/cornudo or, my favorite, hemp/cannabis as other examples.
Thus, the c-b(-z) of cabeza maps to the h-d of head. In the English pattern of short, powerful words, the final sound was lost as well, to give us the simple, straightforward head.
So, this is one of my personal all-time favorite etymologies. Just sayin’.
The Spanish for “heart,” corazón, and the English heart itself, both come from the same original root.
Huh? How? But they’re so different!
Both come from the Proto-Indo-European *kerd-, meaning the same. The key to understanding this one is remembering the pattern that the k- sounds from PIE tended to remain the same in Latin, but changed to the h- sound as it evolved into German and then English. Take, for example, hundred/century, for example.
Thus, the h-r-t of heart maps to the c-r-z of corazón.
From the same root is… courage. yup, that c-r is the same c-r. So courage is indeed something that comes from the heart.
Today is time for what is perhaps my all-time favorite example of how sound patterns change over time. Here we go, no more delays:
The Proto-Indo-European sound k- changed into the h- sound into German (then English) — but it remained the k- sound (often spelled with c-) into Latin then Spanish. Thus we get many great parallels we’ve discussed before, such as head/cabeza. Another example of the same pattern:
The English hemp, for everyone’s favorite weed to smoke. The Spanish for the same, which we also say in English, is cannabis.
Now look closely: if we remember that the h- in the Germanic/English words maps to the c- in Latinate/Spanish words, then it becomes very clear that the h-m-p of hemp maps the c-n-b of cannabis. The m/n and p/b cross and change very easily between each other, so those sound changes are much more obvious.
Who would’ve thunk!