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

Eje and Axle

The Span­ish eje for “axle” comes from the Latin for the same, ax­is. The Eng­lish axle comes from the same com­mon an­ces­tor as the Latin ax­is, the pro­to-in­do-eu­ro­pean root *aks- al­so mean­ing the same.

The Span­ish eje is easy to un­der­stand if we re­mem­ber that most of the x/sh/ch sounds in Latin and the an­cient lan­guages be­came the throat-clear­ing ‑j- sound in Span­ish. Thus, the e‑j of eje maps to the a‑x of axle pret­ty clear­ly.

It’s in­ter­est­ing how such a sim­ple word has re­mained most­ly un­changed for tens of thou­sands of years. Per­haps, the axle is one of the most fun­da­men­tal dis­cov­er­ies in hu­man his­to­ry. It is, af­ter all, what led to the wheel, which led to… civ­i­liza­tion.

Lejos and Leash

We re­cent­ly dis­cussed the re­la­tion­ship be­tween de­jar and re­lax, both from the same Latin root, laxare, from the Latin laxus. Oth­er mod­ern words come from these same roots, let’s see…

In Span­ish, an­oth­er in­ter­est­ing word from the same root is lejos, mean­ing, “far.” This un­der­went the same sh to j tran­si­tion doc­u­ment­ed in the oth­er post. That which is far away, af­ter all, is what we can be re­laxed about, what it’s easy to be loose about.

Some ad­di­tion­al Eng­lish words that come from this same root in­clude:

  • Lease — think about it this way, the Eng­lish say “to let”, that is, to let peo­ple do some­thing with your prop­er­ty, to be re­laxed and dis­tant about it.
  • Lush — the lush man is some­one who is re­laxed about his dili­gence drink­ing.
  • Leash — a leash is pre­cise­ly what you use to try to not let any­thing get re­laxed!

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.

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