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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish » Patterns »

Predecir — Predict, Diction

An easy way to remember the Spanish decir (to say) is through the word predict.

Predict is, literally, pre — decir — to say beforehand. Pre means “before” and the dict- maps almost exactly to the Spanish decir.

How come the decir has an extra ‑t in it to be predict? Because the Latin predecire took the grammatical form of predicatus and this form grew into English (via the French influence). A prediction in Spanish, after all, is predicho!

Thus, it is a cousin of many English words such as diction and dictionary.

Ocho and Octagon

The Latin for “eight” is Octo, from which we get the English Octagon.

Since most Latin words with a ‑ct- sound, like Octo, had the ‑ct- turn into a ‑ch- as the language evolved into Spanish, it is no surprise that eight in Spanish is ocho.

This same pattern manifests itself in noche/nocturnal, leche/lactose, and is one of our favorite patterns here at ForNerds!

Guerra and War

The Spanish for “war” guerra doesn’t sound like it would actually be the same word. But it is!

The Latin words beginning with the harsh gu- sound generally have the same root and are parallel with the English w- words. Think, William and Guillermo, for example. The gu- and w- sounds do sound alike, if you say both in a thick way.

Guerra and War are another great example of this pattern. The English war comes from the French guerre, which in turn comes from the old German verwirren — meaning “to confuse people.” War is confusing indeed and confusing people is indeed a form of warfare.

Cuerno and Cornucopia

We’ve previously discussed cuerno (Spanish for horn) and its related Spanish words – and here’s another: cornucopia, which literally means… the “horn of plenty.” We see the h‑r-n map to the c‑r-n again here!

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?
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