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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish » Patterns » SH to J »

Jarabe — Syrup

Syrup jarabe english spanish

The Span­ish for syrup, jarabe, comes from the same root as the Eng­lish: the Persian/Arabic sharab, which means “a drink, or wine”.

The dras­ti­cal­ly dif­fer­ent (at least su­per­fi­cial­ly) words are ex­plained by the sh- and re­lat­ed (such as, sy- ) sounds chang­ing to the Ara­bic-sound­ing j- sound in Span­ish — but not Eng­lish.

Thus, the j‑r-b of jarabe maps to the sy-r‑p of syrup.

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Jerez — Sher­ry

Sherry jerez spanish englishThe Latin sounds for “sh” — and sim­i­lar vari­a­tions, like “ch” and “ss” — be­came a “j” sound in Span­ish.

Thus, the Eng­lish sher­ry is near iden­ti­cal to the Span­ish jerez!

These sh/j sounds were of­ten spelt with a “x” in old Span­ish; and sher­ry it­self is named af­ter the town it first came from, Xeres, which is near Cor­do­va.

Eno­jar and An­noy

Eno­jar, Span­ish for “to get an­gry”, has a fun cousin in the Eng­lish, an­noy.

Both of these (along with the French for “world­ly bore­dom”, en­nui) come from the Latin in­odi­are, mean­ing, “to hate”. The Latin in- adds em­pha­sis to the odi­um, Latin for “hate”.

We can see the par­al­lels in all with the open vow­el, fol­lowed by the ‑n-, fol­lowed by a ‑y- sound, al­though in Span­ish the ‑y- sounds (and its cor­re­spond­ing ‑x- and ‑sh- vari­a­tions) of­ten turned in­to the ‑j- sounds, as it did here. Thus, the a‑n-y maps to the e‑n-j.

Ha­tred, then, dis­si­pates and weak­ens over time. In Eng­lish, ha­tred weak­ens in­to mere an­noy­ance. In Span­ish, ha­tred weak­ens in­to just anger, eno­jo. And, best of all, ha­tred in French weak­ens in­to a world-weary bore­dom of en­nui.

Jefe — Chief

Chief jefe spanish english

Chief, and the Span­ish for the same, Jefe, both come from the same root: the French chef, which means the same.

But this is odd as they sound so dif­fer­ent! How are they re­lat­ed?

It’s not ob­vi­ous, but it’s easy once you un­der­stand the pat­tern: The Latin sound “sh” and very sim­i­lar sounds (such as the “ch” and “sy”) al­most al­ways be­came a “j” in Span­ish. Like syrup and jarabe. Not ob­vi­ous!

Ca­ja — Case, Cash, Cap­sule

The Span­ish ca­ja (“box”) comes from the Latin cap­sa for the same.

This gives us a sur­pris­ing con­nec­tion to some Eng­lish words that, on the sur­face, sound very dif­fer­ent than ca­ja:

  • Case — In the sense of, well, a box.
  • Cap­sule — Still re­tains the ‑ps- of the orig­i­nal Latin.
  • Cash — Orig­i­nal­ly meant “mon­ey box”. Fun­ny how the name of the con­tain­er turned in­to the name of the thing it­self.

The Latin turned in­to the Span­ish through an in­ter­est­ing pat­tern: the ‑sh- sound in Latin con­sis­tent­ly turned in­to the ‑j- sound in Span­ish (at first re­tain­ing the orig­i­nal pro­nun­ci­a­tion, but then un­der the in­flu­ence of Ara­bic, grew to the throat-clear­ing sound). With ca­ja, we have a slight vari­a­tion of the pat­tern, where the ‑ps- sound turned in­to the ‑j- sound. Thus, the c‑ps maps ex­act­ly to c‑j.

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