Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Family Relations, Part 1e: Main words for Mother and Father

[This entry comes from the second section of chapter 7, "Words for family relations", of Part II of the book Spanish-English Cognates.]

Eng. parent ~ Sp. pariente and related words

The word for the mother-father pair in English is parents, plural of parent. This word comes from Lat. părĕntem, accusative form of părēns, a noun meaning ‘a procreator, a father or mother, a parent’, typically used in the plural in Latin, with the meaning ‘grandparents, and, in gen., progenitors, ancestors’ and, later, ‘relations, kinsfolk, kindred’ (L&S) (nominative plural: părĕntēs ‘mother and father’). Contrary to what one might have thought, this Latin noun is not related to the Latin word for ‘father’. Rather, it is derived from the identical present participle (nom. parens, gen. părĕntis, acc. părĕntem) of the verb parĕre ‘to give birth to’ (also: ‘to bring forth’, ‘to produce’), thus meaning ‘giving birth, etc.’. From this verb comes the patrimonial Spanish verb parir, with the same meaning, ‘to give birth to’ and, sometimes in a figurative sense, ‘to produce’. (This verb’s principal parts are: parĭō, parĕre, peperī, partum and it is one of a number of third conjugation ‑ĕre Latin verbs that changed to third or ‑ir conjugation in Spanish.)

English borrowed the word parent from Old French in the early 15th century. Old French parent could mean both ‘parent’ and ‘relative, kin’, but the English word only retained the first of these two meanings. In the 17th century, English created the verb to parent from this noun with the meaning ‘to be or act as a parent to’ (COED). Although the verb is rare, the noun parenting ‘the skill or activity of looking after your own children’ (DOCE), derived from it is a common word. This word has no Spanish equivalent, though, and it must be translated by roundabout ways, such as crianza de hijos (OSD).

The passive participle of the Latin verb parĕre ‘to give birth to’ was partus (stem: part-), from which comes the zero-derived (converted) Latin noun partus ‘birth, delivery, labor, childbirth’. This noun is the source of the Spanish noun parto, with the same meaning. Other words derived from the same stem part‑ are the nouns partera ‘midwife’, first attested in the 13th century, and partero ‘male midwife, accoucheur’. In addition, the woman who gives birth is known as parturienta, a learned noun derived from the present participle of the Latin verb parturīre ‘to be in labor; to be pregnant’, which is derived from the verb parĕre by means of the ‑ur‑(ī‑re) desiderative suffix.

The adjective corresponding to the Latin noun părēns was părĕntālis, formed by adding the third conjugation adjectival suffix āl‑(is) to the noun’s regular stem părĕnt‑. English borrowed this adjectival as parental in the 17th century. Its meaning is ‘relating to being a parent and especially to being responsible for a child’s safety and development’ (DOCE) and it is found in phrases such as  parental responsibility, parental choice, and  parental consent. There is no equivalent adjective in Spanish and thus the English adjective parental must be translated as de los padres, del padre o de la madre, or paterno o materno.

Spanish does have a cognate of Eng. parent, a patrimonial descendant of Lat. părĕntem (accusative of pārens), namely the patrimonial word pariente. However, as is well known, these two words are false friends, since the Spanish word pariente has come to mean ‘relative’ (‘a person from one’s family’). As we saw for Old French, ‘relative’ was a secondary meaning of the Latin word in Late Latin, but by the time of Old Spanish that was the only meaning the word pariente had.

Spanish does not have a word that means ‘parent’ (i.e. ‘mother or father’). In the singular, Eng. parent translates as either padre ‘father’ or madre ‘madre’, depending on the person’s gender, or padre o madre ‘father or mother’, when we don’t know which one it is. In the plural, however, Eng. parents typically translates as the plural of the word for ‘father’, namely padres ‘lit. fathers’, as is the custom in Spanish, a custom that is opposed by those who favor more inclusive language.

However, some speakers of Spanish have borrowed in recent times the adjective parental, no doubt through English, though it is quite rare. According to the dictionary, it means ‘of the parents or relatives or related to them’. Thus, this word has both of the senses that Latin părēns and părĕntālis had.  It would seem that this word’s use has become more common in recent times, undoubtedly due to the influence of Eng. parental and it is found (rarely) in expressions such as supervisión parental ‘parental supervision’. There is even an adjective derived from parental that is becoming more and more common, namely monoparental, which has been created to describe what in English is expressed by the adjective phrase (or compound) single-parent, as in single-parent family, which translates as familia monoparental. There is no doubt that monoparental is a calque cum loan from the English modifying phrase single-parent.

By analogy with the word monoparental, the adjective monomarental ‘single-mother’ has been created in recent years to emphasize that most of the time the single parent is the mother, as in familia monomarental ‘single-mother family’. Many, however, consider this word a barbarism and it is not registered in the Academy’s dictionary (DLE).[i] There is no way to translate the adjective phrase single-father, however. The noun phrase single parent (as in I am a single parent), also has no direct translation by this same method. The noun phrases single father and single mother translate as padre soltero or madre soltera.

Spanish has a few other words derived from the present participle stem parent‑, namely the nouns parentela and parentesco and the verb emparentar. Sp. parentela ‘kinfolk, relatives, relations’ is a learned borrowing from Lat. parentēla, with the same meaning. It is a synonym of Sp. parientes.

The noun parentesco ‘kinship, relation by blood’ first appeared in writing in 1275 and it is probably an Occitanism. This word is used in expressions such as tener un parentesco lejano ‘to be distant relatives’, no tener parentesco ‘to be unrelated’.

Finally, the Spanish verb emparentar ‘to become related by marriage’ is formed from the same stem by means of the prefix en‑, along with the first conjugation endings, so common in the creation of verbs in Spanish (cf. Part I, Chapter 5, §5.6.1). More common than this verb is the adjective emparentado/a (con) ‘related (to)’ derived from the verb’s past participle, as in Ella y yo no estamos emparentados ‘She and I are not related’.

GO TO PART 2 (Words for Spouses)

Family Relations, Part 1d: Main words for Mother and Father

[This entry comes from the second section of chapter 7, "Words for family relations", of Part II of the book Spanish-English Cognates.]

Nursery words for father and related words

The main nursery words for English father [ˈfɑ.ðəɹ] are dad [ˈdæd], daddy [ˈdæ.ɾi], pop [ˈpʰɒp] / [ˈpʰɑp], poppa [ˈpʰɒ.pə] / [ˈpʰɑ.pə], and papa Br. [pə.ˈpʰɑ] / US [ˈpʰɑ.pə]. The word dad and its diminutive daddy were first recorded around the year 1500. The word papa in English is a late 17th century loanword from French papa. The word pop for ‘dad’, first attested in the 19th century, is derived from papa.

The word dad is first recorded in English in the 15th century, but it is no doubt much older. As we said earlier, pet names for parents in many if not most languages are often derived from the first sounds that an infant makes. The derived word daddy is just a ‘diminutive and endearing form of dad’ (OED), formed with the suffix ‑y (see Part I, Chapter 5).

The main nursery words for Spanish padre are (traditional) papa [ˈpa.pa] and (modern) papá [pa.ˈpa]. The latter, with final (oxytonic) stress, is a loanword from French, whereas the former, with penultimate stress, is the original, patrimonial word. Both descend from Lat. papas, a loanword from Greek πάππας (pappas), which meant ‘dad’. Actually, in Latin it first meant ‘bishop’. That is because in Greek, pappas, which meant ‘dad’, was the name given to patriarchs and bishops and, as such, it was adopted in Latin in the 3rd century.

Latin had a different word pāpa (variant: pappa) meant originally ‘an infant’s cry for food’, for it was ‘the word with which infants call for food’ (LS). That is the source of the Spanish word papa that means ‘mush, pulp, baby food, soft food’, a homonym of the other word papa. This word is archaic nowadays, but it is still found in its diminutive version papilla ‘mush, pulp, baby food’ and in expressions such as No entiendo ni papa ‘I don’t understand a thing’.

The word for the bishop of Rome and leader of the Catholic Church, Pope in English and Papa in Spanish, has this very same Greek source. From the 5th century on, this name came to be used only for the bishop of Rome in western Europe, namely, for the pope. In Spanish, the word for ‘pope’ is also papa, which is the traditional, patrimonial word for ‘dad’ as well. The English word pope [ˈpʰoʊ̯p] is the natural derivation from Old English papa, from the same source. The adjective derived from pope is papal [ˈpʰeɪ̯.pəɫ] in English and papal [pa.ˈpal]) in Spanish, two learned cognates, and the derived abstract noun is papacy [ˈpʰ̯.pə.si] (Sp. papado).

The Spanish word papa meaning ‘potato’ is unrelated and, thus, yet another (a fourth) homonym of the other words papa we just saw. This one comes from Quechua. This was the original Spanish name of this vegetable, which originated in South America, and which became popular in Europe in the 18th century. It was at that time that in Spain it came to be known as patata, not papa like in the Americas. This seems to have been due to a confusion between this vegetable and a related one known as batata, a type of ‘sweet potato’ that originated in the Caribbean, not South America. The ‘confusion’ seems to have been common in Europe, which explains the English name for the vegetable, potato [pə.tʰeɪ̯.to] (late 16th century), and the Italian name, patata (18th century) (the word for ‘potato’ in French is pomme de terre, lit. ‘earth apple’, and is thus unrelated).

As we mentioned above, Latin pappa was a Greek loanword. The traditional pet name for ‘father’ in Latin was not papa, but tata (expressive variant: tatta), a name also formed from a primary children’s syllable. Related to this word was the Latin word atta that also meant father and which was used as a respectful term of address for an old man. These words were related to other words for ‘dad’ in Greek, besides πάππα (páppa), namely τατᾶ ‎(tatâ) or ἄττα (átta), the latter of which could also be used as a salutation for an elder. (Two other words for ‘father’ in Ancient Greek were ἄππα (áppa) and ἀπφά (apphá).) The original source of these words in Proto-Indo-European has been reconstructed as *átta ‘father’, cf. Old Germanic *attô ‘father, dad; forefather’, Old Irish aite ‘foster father, teacher, tutor’, etc.

The Latin word tata survived into Spanish, presumably derived from the variant tatta, since Lat. ‑tt‑ always changed to ‑t‑ in Old Spanish, whereas Lat. ‑t‑ always changed to ‑d‑, though the special, reduplicative nature of this word could have caused to be an exception to the normal sound change. Sp. tata is still used today in some dialects of Spanish in the Americas, as well as in the Murcia region of Spain. (In some dialects of Spanish, the word tata came to be used for ‘nanny’, cf. Sp. niñera, chacha, And./Ven. nana.) In some indigenous American languages, such as Aymara, tata seems to be a patrimonial (not borrowed) word for ‘father’, something which should not surprise us, given how often the words for father (and mother) are derived from the same primal syllables. A dialectal variant of Sp. tata is taita, very common in Old Spanish and still used today in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. According to Corominas, taita is a cross of the word tata and the Basque word for ‘father’, aita. In dialects where tata is used, it can be used sometimes to refer to grandfathers, as well as fathers. In some places, tata is also used as an title or honorific of respect.


Family Relations, Part 1c: Main words for Mother and Father

[This entry comes from the second section of chapter 7, "Words for family relations", of Part II of the book Spanish-English Cognates.]

Nursery words for mother and related words

In addition to the standard words for parents that we saw in §7.2.1, both English and Spanish have what are known as ‘nursery words’ or ‘pet words’ for the same concepts, words that children typically use and that are used in certain colloquial contexts. This is something that most other languages do as well.

Words for ‘mother’ and ‘father’ in many languages are formed out of the first sounds that a child makes in the babbling stage, or babble words, namely the syllables ma, ba, pa, da, and ta. As you can see, the vowel is always the same, though the consonant is either labial (m, b, p) or dental-apical (t, d) (cf. Part I, Chapter 7). The association of any of these consonants with a particular parent seems to be arbitrary, however. Thus, for instance, in Old Japanese, the word for ‘mother’ was papa, a word associated with ‘father’ in many European languages.

This source for pet names for parents results in a great number of coincidences among the languages of the world.[i] So, for instance, the word for ‘mother’ in Mandarin Chinese is māma and in Swahili mama, just like in many European countries. This is not due to a common source or origin, but to coincidence, due the limited number of options available. Thus, pairs of words such as Chinese māma and Swahili mama are not cognates in the sense used in this book, since they do not share a historical source, though they are cognates in the language learning sense.

The main nursery words for English mother (pronounced [ˈmʌ.ðəɹ]) are the following (some have more than one pronunciation due to the vowel being pronounced differently in different dialects): mamma [ˈmæ.mə] (more common in British English), momma [ˈmɒ.ma]/[ˈmɑ.mə], mom [ˈmɒm]/[ˈmɑm] (more common in American English), mommy [ˈmɒ.mi]/[ˈmɑ.mi], mum [ˈmʌm] and mummy [ˈmʌ.mi] (more common in British English), and ma [mɑ], which appeared in the 19th century as short for mamma.[1] Each of the variants may be more popular in a particular region or within a particular family, due to diverse origins in the old country.[2]

The main nursery words for ‘mother’ in Spanish are mama [ˈma.ma] and mamá [ma.ˈma], the two differing only on what syllable the stress falls. As in the case of the words papa vs. papá (see below), the version with penultimate stress is the original one, stemming from Lat. mamma which originally meant ‘breast, udder’ but which was used as a pet name equivalent to Eng. mom. The version with final stress, Sp. mamá, which is the most common one today, came from Modern French, a language in which all words have final stress. This Gallicism (French loanword), like many others in Spanish, dates from the 18th century.

As we just saw, Lat. mamma, besides being the pet name for ‘mother’, originally meant ‘breast, tit, boob’. That is the meaning of Mod. Sp. mama, with penultimate stress, though this is a learned loanword from Latin, not a patrimonial Spanish word, used only in technical or scientific contexts. A more common and ‘modest’ word for ‘breast’ in Spanish is pecho, a word that also means ‘chest’, its original and main meaning (from Lat. pĕctus, regular stem pĕctor‑), though in the plural, pechos typically means ‘breasts’. (Note that the English word breast also has both meanings.)[3]

From the Latin root mam‑, Spanish has a derived verb mamar ‘to breast-feed, suckle’. It comes from Lat. mammāre, derived from the root mamm‑ of mamma (mamm-ār-e). (The verb desmamar is a synonym of destetar, both meaning ‘to wean’.) A related word in Spanish is amamantar ‘to breast-feed, nurse’ (mamantar in Old Spanish). This verb would seem to be a Spanish creation, derived from the stem of the present participle of the Latin verb, mammantem (nom. mammans) ‘suckling, that suckles’.

Another word that derives from the same root is the technical word mamífero ‘mammal(ian)’, which is a 19th century New Latin creation made first in French (mammifère) and which Spanish borrowed. The word mamífero (mam-i-fer-o) has the root fer- ‘to bear’ besides de root mam‑, so it was made to mean something like ‘breast bearing’.

Also from the same Latin root mamm‑ are the English equivalents of Sp. mamífero, namely mammal [ˈmæ.məɫ] and mammalian [mə.ˈmeɪ̯.li.ən], which are also learned scientific words in English. The English noun mammal is an adaptation of the technical term Mammalia, a New Latin term created by Linnaeus (1758) to refer to a class of animals, the mammals (in English, it is pronounced [mə.ˈmeɪ̯.li.ə]). The word mammalia is taken from a Late Latin neuter plural form of mammalis ‘of the breast’, an adjective derived from the noun mamma (minus the inflectional ending ‑a) and the derivational suffix ‑āl‑: mamm‑āl‑ia. An alternative term for ‘mammal’ in English is mammalian,  which is an English creation from the same word Mammalia and the Latinate adjectival suffix ‑an.

There are some diminutives of mama/mamá, the most regular one being mamita ‘mommy’, formed with the root mam‑  and the diminutive suffix ‑it‑ (cf. Part I, Chapter 5, §5.3). In some dialects of Spanish, the equivalent mamaíta and mamacita are also used. By adding the suffix ‑it‑ to the root mama, with or without the linking consonant ‑c‑, shows that some speakers have analyzed the original word as only having one morpheme (being monomorphemic) or, in other words, with the final ‑a not being interpreted as a feminine inflection. This may be the result of the word having become oxytonic (with final stress) mamá under the influence of the French cognate.


[1] The word, mum, which is more common in British than American English, has the same vowel as the word mother, namely [ʌ], though in mother it has the less common spelling o〉 for this sound. The sound [ʌ] is typically spelled u in English, but it is spelled o in many words, such as love and glove.

[2] Note that in all these words, the consonants m-m remain the same, whereas the vowels differ. As often is the case in language change, the consonants of a word tend to be more stable and less likely to change than the vowels.

[3] A more ‘formal’, or perhaps ‘aseptic’, Spanish word for ‘breast’ is seno, a patrimonial Latin word that used to mean just ‘cavity’, since it comes from Lat. sinus ‘curve, cavity’. The meaning ‘breast’ for this word is a Gallicism, derived from the sense ‘cleavage’ that the French cognate of this word, sein, word adopted in that language. The use of seno to mean ‘breast’ is common in some dialects of Spanish, but not in others (other than in written form). The colloquial (some would say vulgar) term for a womans breast is teta ‘tit’. This word is a cognate of Eng. tit, which is a variant of teat, a mid-13th century loanword from Old French tete ‘teat’ (Mod.Fr. tette). Eng. teat/tit and Sp. teta are thought to be of Germanic origin, not Latin, though the exact source is not clear.

Family Relations, Part 1b: Main words for Mother and Father

[This entry comes from the second section of chapter 7, "Words for family relations", of Part II of the book Spanish-English Cognates.]

Adjectives and nouns derived from the Latin words for mother and father

The Classical Latin adjectives for the nouns māter and pāter were māternus and pāternus, meaning ‘of or relating to a mother’ and ‘of or relating to a father’, respectively (the feminine nominative forms were māterna and pāterna, respectively). The origin of the derivational suffix involved here is not clear. There are only a handful of Latin adjectives that contain this ‑rn‑(us/a) ending in addition to these two.[1]

The Latin adjectives māternus and pāternus have given us the Spanish learned words (cultismos) materno and paterno (fem. materna and paterna) and in amor materno ‘mother’s love’ or ‘motherly love’ and casa paterna ‘father’s house’. These two adjectives are partially equivalent to Eng. maternal and paternal, as we shall see below.

The adjectives māternus and pāternus were modified in Late Latin by the addition of the third declension adjectival suffix ‑āl‑(is), resulting in the words māternālis ‘of or relating to a mother’ and pāternālis ‘of or relating to a father’. These words were used as synonyms of classical Latin māternus and pāternus. These two adjectives containing the suffix ‑āl‑ were borrowed by both English and Spanish more than 500 years ago. In English, maternal [mə.ˈtʰɜɹ.nəl] is the main adjective for the noun mother and paternal [pə.ˈtʰɜɹ.nəl] for father. Each competes with the relevant noun as modifiers. Eng. maternal has the following three major meanings:

1.   ‘relating to a mother’, as in maternal mortality
2.   ‘associated with or typical of a mother’, as in maternal instinct, synonymous with motherly, as in maternal love
3.   ‘related through the mother's side of the family’, as in maternal grandmother.

Likewise, the English adjective paternal has the same three analogous meanings: ‘relating to the father’, ‘associated with or typical of a father’, and ‘related through the father’s side of the family’.

We cannot expect Spanish maternal and paternal to have all the same meanings as their English cognates if for no other reason that these two Spanish adjectives have to compete with the adjectives materno and paterno that we saw earlier, which have no English cognates. Also, remember that English has the native adjectives motherly and fatherly that compete with the Latinate pair of adjectives.

English adjectives
Spanish adjectives
maternal, motherly
materno/a, maternal
paternal, fatherly
paterno/a, paternal

In the case of Sp. maternal, we find that primarily has the sense (2) above of Eng. maternal, i.e. the ‘motherly’ sense or, in other words, it has to do with the expected attitude or feeling of a mother towards her child. The same thing is true of Spanish paternal, which means ‘typical of a father’ or ‘fatherlike’, as in una actitud paternal, un consejo paternal. The other senses of Eng. paternal and maternal are expressed by the adjective paterno/a and materno/a. Since the English adjectives fatherly and motherly and synonyms of sense (2) of Eng. paternal and maternal, we find that they also translate into Spanish as paternal and maternal, respectively.

From the Latin adjectives māternus and pāternus, abstract nouns were derived in Medieval Latin by means of the suffix ‑tāt‑ (nominative ‑tās, genitive: ‑tāt-is): māternitās and pāternitās (mātern‑i‑tās, pātern‑i‑tās). These words are the source of Eng. maternity and paternity and their Spanish cognates maternidad and paternidad. English borrowed these words through French, which borrowed them from Latin first.

Eng. paternity [pə.ˈtʰɜɹ.nə.ɾi] is first attested in 12th century in religious contexts with meanings that are now obsolete and it has come to be used today mostly in legal contexts with the meaning ‘the fact of being the father of a particular child, or the question of who the child’s father is’ (DOCE). This word’s Spanish cognate, paternidad, is first attested in the 15th century and it can have the same meaning at its English cognate. This word is used in both languages with the meaning just shown in phrases such as Eng. paternity suit and Sp. demanda de paternidad or litigio por paternidad; Eng. paternity test and Sp. prueba de paternidad; and Eng. paternity leave and Sp. baja por paternidad or permiso de paternidad.

Eng. maternity [mə.ˈtʰɜɹ.nə.ɾi] is a loanword from Middle Fr. maternité and it is first attested in 1475 (French had borrowed the word from Latin in the 12th century). This word could be the mother’s counterpart of Eng. paternity, but since who a child’s mother is is rarely in question, it does not really get used that way (though it can, by analogy with paternity). The word maternity can be used as a noun with the meaning ‘the state of being a mother’ (AHD), but the noun motherhood is much more common to express that meaning (see below). It can also be used as a noun with the sense of ‘the feelings or characteristics associated with being a mother’ (AHD), but motherliness is probably more commonly used to express this rare meaning. Actually, Eng. maternity is used primarily as a modifier in compounds with the meaning ‘relating to or effective during pregnancy, childbirth, or the first months of motherhood’ (AHD), as in maternity dress (Sp. vestido premamá, vestido de embarazada), maternity leave (Sp. baja/permiso por maternidad), or maternity hospital/ward (Sp. maternidad). Sp. maternidad can be used with some of the same senses as Eng. maternity, even being found in some equivalent made phrases, as we just saw, though not all.

We shouldn’t be surprised that Spanish paternidad and maternidad cannot be fully equivalent to their English cognates paternity and maternity, if for no other reason that in English there are other abstract nouns derived from the words father and mother that compete for related meanings with them, words such as fatherhood and fathership for the former, and motherhood and motherliness for the latter. Spanish, on the other hand, does not have any other nouns and, thus, Spanish maternidad and paternidad are the only options to translate several words in the English language.

English abstract nouns
Spanish abstract nouns
maternity, motherhood, motherliness
paternity, fatherhood, ?fatherliness, ?fathership


[1] The Latin adjectives with the ‑rn‑ ‘suffix’ were the following: aeternus ‘eternal’ (earlier: aeviternus, from aevum ‘eternity; period, etc.’), alternus ‘alternate, etc.’ (from alter ‘other’), dĭurnus ‘daily, of the day’ (from from diūs, old form of diēs ‘day’), frāternus ‘fraternal’ (from frater ‘brother’), hībernus ‘of the winter’ (earlier hiemernus, from hĭems or hiemps ‘winter’), hŏdĭernus ‘of the present’ (from hŏdĭē ‘today’), mŏdernus ‘modern’ (from mŏdo ‘right now’), and vĕternus ‘of great age, old, ancient’ (from adj. vĕtus, gen. vĕturis, ‘old, aged, ancient’).

Two feminine nouns also seem to contain this ‘suffix’: căverna ‘a hollow, cavity, cave, cavern’, seemingly related to the adjective căvus/a ‘hollow, excavated, concave’; and tăberna ‘a hut, shed, booth, stall, shop constructed of boards’, originally traberna, from trabs (gen. trabis) ‘timber, etc.’.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Sp. llamar / clamar & Eng. claim: the root CLAM, Part 3

[This entry comes from Chapter 15, "Llamar/clamar & claim: the root CLAM- and related words", of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

Sp. clamar and Eng. to claim

As we saw above, the Latin verb clāmāre evolved into the patrimonial Spanish verb llamar, with the form and the meaning of the word evolving along the way. The meaning of the verb clāmāre involved the use of a loud or intense voice, typically for the purpose of sending a message. That is why it is said to have had the following main senses:
  • shout (intransitive): ‘to call, cry out, shout aloud, to complain with a loud voice’ (L&S) (Sp. ‘dar voces, gritar, lamentarse a gritos’, Vox); synonym: vōciferārī
  • declare / proclaim (transitive): ‘to call or cry aloud to something or someone, to proclaim, declare, to invoke, call upon’ (L&S) (Sp. ‘proclamar, llamar (to name); anunciar, manifestar’, Vox),  synonym exclamāre
  • call/ask for: ‘to ask for, call for, clamor for, demand’ (Sp. llamar, pedir, etc.)

The last of these three senses seems to have developed out of the other two at a later date. As we can see, the meaning of Sp. llamar has evolved to a large extent from the meanings of the original Latin word. The ‘naming’ sense seems to have derived from the ‘proclaim’ sense and the ‘summon’ sense most likely came from the ‘call for’ sense. As for the form of Sp. llamar, we already saw that it displays the typical sound change that converted the CL [kl] sound sequence (consonant cluster) of Latin to Old Spanish LL [ʎ] (cf. Part I, Chapter 10, §

As we saw earlier, much later, in the first half of the 15th century, Spanish borrowed this very same verb from Latin, a learned doublet of llamar, namely the fancy verb clamar, meaning ‘to cry out for, to clamor for’. It is a fancy and literary word, typically used transitively in collocation with certain nouns, such as in clamar justicia ‘to cry out for justice’ or clamar venganza ‘to cry out for revenge’. However, it can also be used with an object with the prepositions por ‘for, in favor of’ or contra ‘against’, as in clamar por la justicia ‘to cry out for justice’.

As we also mentioned earlier, Spanish llamar and clamar are cognates of the English verb to claim [ˈkʰleɪ̯m]. As in the case of the verb to call, which has a homonymous noun call, the verb claim also has an identical noun claim. The meaning of the English verb claim, however, is not in any way equivalent to (a good friend of) the Spanish words, llamar or clamar, even though their meanings are obviously derived from and related to the original meaning of Latin clāmāre, as we shall see.

The English verb to claim is a 14th century borrowing from the Old French verb clamer whose main meaning was ‘to declare (loudly), proclaim’ but probably also had the ‘cry for, demand’ sense that the sourceword had acquired in Latin, but not the primary senses that the Spanish patrimonial reflex of this Latin word, llamar, had come to have, such as the ‘name’ and ‘summon’ senses. The two major senses of the verb to claim in Modern English are exactly those two:
  • the assert senses (‘allege’, ‘profess’, etc.): ‘assert that something is the case’ (COED); this meaning translates into Spanish as alegar, afirmar, sostener, or decir; e.g. She claims to know the truth ‘Afirma saber la verdad’
  •  the demand senses (‘assert a title, a right, etc.’): ‘demand as one’s own property, earnings, right, etc.’; these senses translate into Spanish as reclamar, exigir, reivindicar, solicitar, pedir, or cobrar, depending on the context; e.g. She claimed the reward ‘Pidió/reclamó la recompensa’; She claimed diplomatic immunity ‘Alegó inmunidad diplomática’,

If we look at how the two senses are expressed in Spanish, we see that only one of them can be expressed, in some contexts, with a word that also contains the clam‑ root, namely reclamar, which besides meaning ‘to claim; to demand’ can also mean, in legal terminology, ‘to appeal’ (see below).
The English noun claim also has two major senses, an ‘assertion’ sense and a ‘demand’ sense, just like the verb it is derived from:
  • the assertion senses: cf. Sp. afirmación, opinión, noción, declaración, tesis, etc., depending on the context; e.g. I don’t believe his claim ‘No creo lo que dijo’
  • the demand sense: cf. Sp. reclamación, reivindicación, demanda, etc., depending on the context; e.g. She put in a claim with her insurance ‘Puso una reclamación al seguro’

As with the case of the verb to claim, of the several ways to translate the two senses of the English noun claim, only one contains the same Latin root, namely reclamación (see below).

The noun claim entered English in the early 14th century, soon after the adoption of the verb. Unlike with the noun call, which was derived in English from the verb to call by conversion (zero derivation; see Part I, §5.7), the noun claim seems to have been borrowed from the French noun claime ‘claim, complaint’, which was derived (in French) from the verb clamer (see above) and only later did the two words, the noun and the verb, come to be pronounced and spelled the same way.

There are a few idiomatic expressions with the verb and noun claim in English. Their meanings are related to the main meanings mentioned earlier. The following are some of the most common ones:

Idiom with claim
Spanish equivalent
one’s claim to fame
por lo que se le conoce a uno, el mérito de uno
to claim (for) something
reclamar algo
to claim responsibility for
to have a claim on something
tener derecho a algo
advertising claim
afirmación publicitaria
to back up someone’s claim
respaldar la opinión de alguien
to lay claim to something
reclamar el derecho a algo, reivindicar algo
to (make a) claim for damages
demandar/presentar una demanda por daños
compensation claim
solicitud/reclamación de indemnización
to make good on one’s claim
probar/demostrar lo que uno dice
to claim may lives
cobrarse muchas vidas
to claim victory
cantar victoria
to claim credit
atribuirse el mérito
to make no claim to
no pretender

There are also a few English words derived from the noun claim. One is the noun claimant, created in English in the 18th century out of the verb to claim with the ‑ant suffix, that is, following the model on words such as appellant (< appeal) and defendant (< defend). The suffix ‑ant is originally a French present participle and it is found mostly in French loanwords but, in this case, English used the pattern analogically to form the word claimant out of the verb (in other words, the noun claimant is not a loan from French, though the parts it is made of are French). The equivalent in Spanish would be solicitante, referring to someone who makes a legal claim, and pretendiente, when referring to someone with claims to a throne.

Another English word that contains the noun claim is quitclaim, a legal term meaning ‘a formal renunciation or relinquishing of a claim’ (COED), often found in property deeds, particularly in North America. In Spanish, quiteclaim can be translated as transferencia or traspaso (de propiedad). Eng. quitclaim is partly a late 13th or early 14th century loanword from Anglo-French quiteclame (among other spellings), but also partly derived in English from the verb quitclaim ‘to declare (a person) free; to release, acquit, or discharge’, a verb that is now archaic. The quit in quitclaim is related to the verb to quit ‘to give up’, which comes from Old French quiter ‘to clear, establish one’s innocence’ and ‘to release, let go, relinquish, abandon’.[1]

Finally, we should mention that Latin had a noun derived from the verb clāmāre, namely clāmor, that meant ‘a loud call/shout, battle cry; cry of fear, pain or mourning’ (in Old Latin it was clāmŏs).[2] Both English and Spanish have learned, fancy cognate nouns that are borrowed from this Latin word, namely Sp. clamor [kla.ˈmoɾ] and Eng. clamor [ˈkʰlæ.məɹ]. Both nouns mean ‘a loud and confused noise, especially of shouting’ and, derived from it, ‘a vehement protest or demand’ (COED).

Eng. clamor is a late 14th century loan from Old French clamor, an early loanword from Latin (mid-11th century; cf. Mod. Fr. clameur). Sp. clamor is also an early loan from Latin, already found in the Cid, though it may have come through Occitan. Eng. clamor can also be used as a verb, namely to clamor, ‘([said] of a group) [to] shout or demand loudly’ (COED). This verb was derived from the noun by conversion (zero derivation). It translates into Spanish as gritar, clamar (por), or pedir (a gritos). The two nouns, Eng. clamor and Sp. clamor, are close friends. Synonyms of Sp. clamor are griterío, related to gritar ‘to scream’; vociferación, from the verb vociferar ‘to vociferate, shout’; and the phrase demanda a voces.[3] However, a verb was also derived in Spanish from the noun clamor in the 17th century, namely clamorear, though it is quite fancy and rare today. It is a transitive verb that means ‘to make a begging and plaintive request’.

[1] Modern French quitter means primarily ‘to leave, abandon, get rid of’, as in the title of the famous 1959 song by Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel Ne me quitte pas ‘Don’t leave me’ (Sp. ‘No me dejes’). These words are cognates of Sp. quitar, which is a false friend since it means primarily ‘to remove, take off, take away, steal, etc.’. All of these verbs are derived from the Latin adjective quĭētus ‘at rest, free from exertion, inactive, in repose’, ‘undisturbed, free from agitation, quiet, peaceful’, cf. the false friends Eng. quiet ‘silent’ ~ Sp. quieto ‘motionless’. This Latin adjective is derived by conversion from the identical passive participle of the verb quiēscĕre ‘to rest, repose, etc.’ (principal parts: quiēscō, quiēscĕre, quiēvī, quiētus). The verb itself is derived from the noun quĭes (genitive quĭētis), which had two main senses, ‘rest’ (cf. Sp. quieto) and ‘quiet’ (cf. Eng. quiet).

Sp. quieto [ˈki̯e.t̪o] is a learned word, a loan from the Latin adjective quĭētus. This word started to replace its patrimonial cognate quedo (from Vulgar Latin quētus) in the 16th century, becoming very common already in the early 17th century, cf. Cervantes’ El Quixote. From the adjective quedo, Spanish developed the polysemous verb quedar(se) ‘to stay, remain, etc.’ by the 13th century.

Eng. quiet [ˈkwaɪ̯.ət] is a late 14th century loan from learned Fr. quiet or from Lat. quietus. Originally the meaning of Eng. quiet was ‘peaceable, at rest, restful, tranquil’. In the 15th century the meaning was extended to include the sense ‘averse to making stir, noise, etc.’, which eventually became the word’s main meaning.

From the adjective quĭētus, Latin developed the deponent verb quiētarī ‘‘to calm, quiet down’ (Sp. ‘calmar, apaciguar’; principal parts: quiētor, quiētarī, quiētātus sum). This verb changed to a first conjugation quĭētāre and eventually, in Medieval Latin, to quitare. Also, it came to have a technical legal meaning, something like ‘to put someone at rest/peace by removing some burden (such as an accusation, tribute, debt, or duty)’. (The Medieval Latin adjective quitus or quittus could also mean ‘free of war, debt, or another burden, see below.) Eventually, only the sense of removing remained from the verb, as in Spanish quitar. In other languages, descendants of this Latin verb evolved even further, as in Fr. quitter ‘to leave, abandon’ (i.e. ‘to remove oneself’) and Eng. quit. The main sense of Eng. quit used to be until not too long ago ‘to leave, especially permanently’, as in She quit the premises, a sense that is now somewhat archaic in North American English. The main modern meanings of Eng. quit developed from that sense, however. They are the informal ‘resign from (a job)’ sense, as in I quit my job, and the (mostly North American) ‘stop or discontinue’ sense, as in I quit smoking.

By the way, the English adverb quite is also related to this family of words. It used to mean only ‘to the greatest extent; completely, thoroughly’, as in quite alone, though now it can also have a much less strong sense, namely ‘somewhat, to a degree’, as in quite soon. This adverb is derived from the now archaic adjective quit ‘absolved of a duty or an obligation; free’ (AHD), ‘rid of’ (COED), as in I want to be quit of him, etc. This adjective quit is a loan (c. 1200) from Old French quite or quitte ‘free, clear, entire, at liberty; discharged; unmarried’, which comes from Medieval Latin quitus or quittus ‘free of burden’ (see above), which ultimately comes from Classical Latin quietus. Spanish also borrowed this adjective at one point, as quito. It also meant ‘free, exempt (of a debt or obligation)’. However, that word is now archaic, if not obsolete. By the way, this word quito is not related to the word Quito, the name of the capital of Ecuador. This city’s name is thought to come from an indigenous language and to mean ‘middle of the earth’.

[2] The Old Latin genitive form of this word would have been clāmŏsis, with an r instead of an s in the final syllable. However, in Old Latin, intervocalic s became r and, eventually, the s also changed to r in the nominative form (where it was not between vowels) by analogy. Other common words that display this s to r change are arbor ‘tree’ (earlier arbos; cf. Sp. árbol ‘tree’) and labor ‘work’ (earlier labos; cf. Sp. labor and Sp. labor).

[3] The Spanish verb vociferar ‘to shout’ has a cognate in Eng. vociferate. They are both fancy words, though the English one is probably less common and less well known. The are both loanwords from Lat. vōcĭfĕrārī ‘to cry out, cry aloud, exclaim, scream, bawl, vociferate' (or from the rarer, regularized version of the deponent verb, vōcĭfĕrāre). This verb is formed from the root vōc‑ of the noun vōx vōcis ‘voice’ and from the root of the verb ferre ‘to carry, bear’ (ferō, ferre, tulī/tetulī, lātus).

Family Relations, Part 1e: Main words for Mother and Father

[This entry comes from the second section of chapter 7, "Words for family relations", of Part II of the book  Spanish-English Co...