Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spices and herbs, Part 4: Other words about flavoring food

[This entry is an excerpt from the second section ("Condiments and seasonings") of Chapter 43, "Spices and herbs", of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

Sp. aderezar and Eng. (ad)dress

Before moving on to the names of herbs and spices, let us look at a few more words that have to do with adding flavor to food. The first one is Sp. aderezar ‘to season; to dress’, along with the noun aderezo ‘seasoning; dressing’ derived from it (cf. Part II, Chapter 25, §25.8). This verb is a patrimonial reflex of Vulgar Latin *dīrectiāre ‘to make straight’, or rather a variant of this verb formed with the prefix ad‑ ‘to’, *addīrectiāre. This verb developed into verbs with diverse meanings in the Romance languages, but it was formed from the stem dīrect‑ of the passive participle dīrectus ‘direct, straight’, source of the cognates Eng. direct ~ Sp. direct and derecho (dīrect‑i‑ā‑re). This participle came from the verb dīrigĕre ‘to lay straight, arrange in lines; to direct, steer’, the source of learned Sp. dirigir ‘to direct, etc.’[1]

Spanish aderezar means ‘to season, condiment’ when speaking of a stew, for example, and ‘to dress’ when speaking of salads, as in aderezar la ensalada ‘to dress the salad’. Interestingly, the English word dress is related to Sp. aderezar. Actually, Eng. address and Sp. aderezar are cognates since they both come from the same Vulgar Latin source *addīrectiāre. The verb to address /ə.ˈdɹɛs/ was borrowed from French in the early 14th century with the primary meaning ‘to guide, aim, direct’. The noun address /ˈæ.dɹəs/ was derived from the verb, in English, in the 16th century and it came to have a variety of meanings, among them the main one it has today, namely ‘the particulars of the place where a person lives or an organization is situated’ (COED).

The verb to dress came from the other version of this Vulgar Latin verb, namely *dīrectiāre. It also came into English in the early 14th century, with several meanings: ‘to make straight’, ‘to arrange’, ‘to manage’, ‘to apply oneself, direct one's skill or energies, turn the attention to’, and crucially for the context we are talking about, ‘to prepare for use as food, by making ready to cook, or by cooking’ and ‘to season (food, especially a salad)’ (OED). The noun dressing (Sp. aderezo) was obviously derived from the verb to dress. It is already found in writing in the mid-14th century, though the food sense is from around the year 1500 (the ‘bandage’ sense is from the 18th century).

The main sense of the English verb  to dress (Sp. vestir) in Modern English, and thus of the more common expression to get dressed (Sp. vestirse), can already be discerned in the mid-15th century, though it did not become the common way of referring to the action of putting clothes on until the 17th century. The noun dress for a woman’s garment was derived from the verb, also in the 17th century.

Sp. aliñar (and Eng. align)

There is another Spanish word that can be used with the meaning ‘to season; to flavor’ but, most commonly, with the meaning of ‘to dress (a salad)’. The verb is aliñar, a patrimonial word that, curiously, is a cognate of the English verb to align. Both of them come from the Latin verb līnĕāre ‘to put in a line, to put in order’, with the prefix ad‑ ‘to’ (which could also be used to indicate closeness in Latin). Notice that the other verb we just saw, aderezar, had a very similar meaning originally in Vulgar Latin. The verbs aderezar and aliñar are synonyms that, as we said, are used nowadays primarily for adding flavor (dressing) to food, primarily to salads. As in the case of aderezar, there is a noun derived (by conversion) from this verb, namely aliño (root: aliñ‑), also with both senses, namely ‘seasoning’ (rare) and, for salads, ‘dressing’.

The Latin verb līnĕāre ‘to make straight or perpendicular’ was derived from the Latin noun līnĕa, the source of Eng. line and Sp. (learned) línea. Actually, Eng. line /ˈlaɪ̯n/ seems to be a blend of two words that sounded similar and had partially similar meanings: Old English line ‘cable, rope, etc.’ (of native, Germanic origin) and Old French ligne ‘guideline, cord, string, etc.’ (of Latin origin). Only the latter word comes from Lat. līnĕa, which was originally a feminine adjective wordform that meant ‘(made) of linen/flax’. This word was originally found in the phrase linea restis ‘linen cord’, which became shortened to līnĕa (Lat. restis meant ‘rope, cord’).

From its meaning ‘linen thread’, Lat. līnĕa came to mean ‘string, line, plumb-line’. Eng. linen ~ Sp. lino mean ‘cloth made from woven flax’. The Spanish word descends from Lat. līnum ‘flax, linen’, but the source of Eng. linen is more mysterious. The source word already existed in Proto-Germanic, since it is common to all Germanic languages, and it could possibly have been borrowed from Lat. līnum very early on. The source of Lat. līnum, on the other hand is unknown.[2]

Sp. línea ‘line’ looks like a borrowing from Latin, for if it was a patrimonial word that had been passed on orally it would have turned into liña by the expected sound mutations (cf. Part I, Chapter 10). Actually, there was a word liña in Old Spanish, with the derived meaning of ‘descent’ and ‘hook line’ (‘hebra del anzuelo’). This word came to be replaced by the learned version línea by the 17th century, which also acquired new senses that its cognates had in other languages (in particular Fr. ligne and Eng. line), such as ‘a long, narrow mark or band’ and ‘a row of written or printed words’ (COED). It is interesting that that common popular pronunciations of the word línea are linia or even liña, as in the original patrimonial word.

A cognate, learned doublet of Sp. aliñar is alinear, whose main meaning is ‘to align, line up’ (a‑line‑ar). Derived meanings are ‘to pick, select (a player)’, used in sports, and ‘to form up’, used in the military. A derived noun related to the former sense is alineación or ‘lineup’ or ‘player selection’, though this noun can also be used with the meaning of its English semi-cognate alignment. (We call this a semi-cognate because it has the same root, similar meaning, but different affixes.)

There is a verb in Spanish that is derived from the verb aliñar, namely desaliñar. This verb, however, is not related to food. It is the antonym of an earlier meaning of aliñar, since it means ‘to make untidy, make scruffy’ in modern Spanish. This word is mostly found in its adjectival derived form desaliñado/a ‘untidy, scruffy’, derived from the verb’s past participle.

Sp. adobar and Eng. dub

The next seasoning word is the verb adobar, which is used primarily to refer to things done to prepare meat or fish for eating. It translates as to marinade when used for seasoning, to pickle when used for conserving, and to cure in the context of curing meats. In the context of preparing animal skins, adobar also means ‘to tan’. The derived noun adobo refers to the marinade used for seasoning/curing. It is derived from the verb by conversion (without the use of derivational affixes, cf. Part I, Chapter 5).

The word adobar is very old, since it is already found in Mio Cid, one of the earliest Spanish texts (cf. Part I, Chapter 10). It is, however, a loanword from Old French adober (obsolete in Modern French), which meant ‘to dub, bestow the title of knight’ or ‘to equip a knight with his suit of armor’ (Sp. armar caballero). Spanish adobar would seem to be a metaphorical extension of this latter sense. The Old French word adober is not of Latin origin, but rather Germanic. It comes from Frankish *dubban that originally meant ‘to push, hit’. The reason that this word came to mean ‘to knight’ is presumably related to the custom of giving a newly made knight a slap in the back. This *dubban is probably a cognate of the English verb to dub.[3]

By the way, the word adobe, found in both Spanish and English, is not related to these words. This word refers primarily to ‘a sun-dried, unburned brick of clay and straw’ (AHD). Eng. adobe /ə.ˈdoʊ̯.bi/ is an 18th century borrowing in American English from Sp. adobe /a.ˈd̪o.be/, with the same meaning. Spanish borrowed this word in the 12th century from Arabic aṭ-ṭūba ‘the brick’ (< al‑ ‘the’ + ṭūba ‘brick’), ultimately from Coptic tōbe, from ancient Egyptian ḏbt ‘brick’.

Sp. marinar ~ Eng. marinate/marinade

Finally, we have the cognate verbs Eng. marinate and Sp. marinar, which are transitive verbs that mean ‘to put meat or fish in a marinade, or to be left in a marinade for some time’ (DOCE). The noun marinade /ˈmæɹ.ɪ.neɪ̯d/ found in that definition refers to ‘a mixture of oil, vinegar, and spices, in which meat, fish, or other food is soaked before cooking in order to flavor or soften it’ (COED). In other words, you marinate food in a marinade. Note, however, that the verb marinate has an alternative form, marinade, homonymous with the noun and the noun marinade has an alternative form marinate, homonymous with the verb.

Eng. marinate /ˈmæɹ.ɪ.neɪ̯t/ is a 17th century loanword that came most likely from Italian marinare, perhaps through its past participle form marinato, or else from French mariner, both of which mean ‘to pickle in (sea) brine’. Spanish marinar is obviously a cognate of these other Romance words and it has the same meaning. Eng. marinade /ˈmæɹ.ɪ.neɪ̯d/ came from French marinade, a noun derived in the 17th century from the verb mariner.

All of these verbs have at their core the root mar‑ of Lat. mare ‘sea’ (same form in the nominative and accusative), the source of Sp. mar ‘sea’. In particular, they are related to an adjective derived from this noun, namely marīnus ‘of the sea’, formed with the suffix ‑īn‑ (mar‑īn‑us), which is the source of the cognates Eng. marine ~ Sp. marino/a. Remember that brine is ‘very salty water, used especially for preserving food’ (OALD), much like sea water, and in fact sea water was used to marinate food. The word for brine in Latin was actually aqua marina ‘sea water’ (Sp. agua marina), which was typically shortened to marina, from where comes the verb marinar ‘to put in brine’.[4] (Lat. marīna is the feminine form of marīnus.)

The noun marinade can be expressed in Spanish by the cognate noun marinada, though this is quite rare. The word marinada is primarily a feminine adjective derived from the past participle of the verb marinar (masculine: marinado), as in lubina marinada ‘marinated sea bass’ or salmón marinado ‘marinated salmon’. The preferred noun for marinade in Modern Spanish is adobo (see above). Actually, the DLE dictionary defines marinada as a type of adobo.[5] This noun is derived from an adjective marinado, derived from the identical past participle of the verb marinar.



[1] Lat. dīrĭgĕre was formed from the prefix dis‑ ‘apart, in a different direction’ and the verb regĕre ‘to keep straight; to guide, steer; to oversee, manage; to rule, govern’. This verb was borrowed from Latin into Spanish (first attested in the 15th century) and it translates into English in a variety of ways, depending on the context. One of them is to direct, which is strictly speaking a cognate, since this word comes from a wordform of the verb dīrĭgĕre, namely its passive participle dīrectus. But in other contexts, to direct is not the right equivalent, e.g. dirigir una empresa ‘to manage/run a business’, dirigir una orquesta ‘to conduct an orchestra’, dirigir una expedición ‘to lead/head an expedition’, etc. A common derived noun is dirigente ‘leader; manager’.

[2] In compounds, we find the form lin‑, as in lincloth (= linen cloth) and linseed ‘the seed of flax, especially when used as the source of linseed oil; flaxseed’ (AHD).

[3] The English verb to dub, with the meaning ‘to make somebody a knight’, is thought to come from the same Fr. adober, though there are some questions about how and when the loan took place. This verb, dubbian in Old English (11th c.), meant ‘to knight by striking with a sword’. This verb to dub is unrelated to another verb to dub, which means ‘to add or alter sound on film’ (1929). This other verb to dub is a clipping of the word double.

[4] As we saw in a previous section, the word for ‘brine’ in Spanish is salmuera, a word derived from the word sal ‘salt’. The second part of this word derives from Lat. mŭrĭa ‘brine, salt liquor, pickling’.

[5] In the DLE, marinada is defined as ‘adobo líquido compuesto de vino, vinagre, especias, hierbas, etc., en el que se maceran ciertos alimentos, especialmente pescado y carne de caza, antes de cocinarlos’.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spices and herbs, Part 3: Condiments and seasonings

[This entry is an excerpt from the second section ("Condiments and seasonings") of Chapter 43, "Spices and herbs", of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

Eng. condiment and Sp. condimento


According to one dictionary’s definition, the English word condiment refers to ‘something used to enhance the flavor of food; especially a pungent seasoning’ (MW). Another definition gives us some examples of condiments in its definition: ‘a substance such as salt, mustard, or pickle that is used to flavor food’ (COED). Seeing the word pickle in the definition may seem odd to some, but as we shall see, pickling was part of the original meaning of the word condiment. Another dictionary (OALD) mentions that a condiment may come to the table alongside the food, not necessarily in it, though it also says that is sense is found especially in North America and not in dialects of English outside North America. The OED adds another interesting aspect to the meaning of condiment that other dictionaries do not mention, namely that it is ‘anything of pronounced flavor used to season or give relish to food, or to stimulate the appetite’.

Eng. condiment /ˈkɒn.dɪ.mənt/ comes Old French condiment, from Latin condīmĕntum ‘spice, seasoning, sauce’, a noun derived from the fourth conjugation verb condīre (condiō, condīre, condīvī, condītum), with the noun suffix ‑ment‑ (cond+i+ment+um) (cf. Part I, Chapters 5 and 8). Lat. condīre meant first of all ‘to put fruit in vinegar, wine, spices, etc., to preserve, pickle’ and, derived from it, ‘to embalm, mummify’ (LS). Secondarily, when said of food, this verb could also mean ‘to make savory, to season, spice’.[1]

French borrowed the noun condiment from Latin in the 13th century and English borrowed it from French in the 15th century. Spanish condimento is supposedly a loanword from Latin but given the fact that it does not appear in writing until the 16th century, it is quite likely that Spanish got it indirectly from Latin through French, just as English did.

Spanish has an archaic, if not obsolete, patrimonial verb condir derived from Lat. condīre, which means ‘to season’. Old Spanish had a second, unrelated verb condir, this one descended from Lat. condĕre ‘to put together, build, establish, etc.’, and which is truly obsolete nowadays. There is a remnant of the verb condĕre in our languages, however, namely the cognate nouns Eng. condition and Sp. condición, which come from Latin condĭtĭo (stem: condĭtĭōn‑), which in Latin meant ‘a making, creating’, and in Medieval Latin ‘status, position, circumstances’. It is derived from the passive participle stem condĭt‑ of the verb condĕre and the ‑iōn‑ ending used to form nouns out of verbs. There was another identical noun condĭtĭo in Latin, this one derived from the Latin verb condīre ‘to season’, which is the source of condiment. It meant ‘a preserving of fruits’ or ‘a spicing, seasoning, flavoring’ (‘the act of seasoning’). This noun, however, not been passed on to either English or Spanish.

From the nouns Eng. condiment and Sp. condimento, both English and Spanish have created verbs meaning ‘to season’. English has the verb to condiment, which is a rare alternative to the verb to season. In Spanish, the verb Sp. condimentar, which was first mentioned in the DRAE only in 1843, has become a common alternative to the verb sazonar, the traditional verb that meant ‘to season’ and a cognate of the English verb to season. Sp. sazonar is perhaps becoming obsolete in at least some Spanish dialects. This could be because condimentar has a noun it goes with, condimento, whereas sazonar does not anymore, as we shall see in the next section.

Eng. season and Sp. sazonar


Perhaps the most common verb that expresses the act of adding condiments to food in English is to season /ˈsi.zən/. Its primary meaning is ‘to improve or enhance the flavor of (food) by adding salt, spices, herbs, or other flavorings’. The noun seasoning /ˈsi.zən.ɪŋ/, as well as its less common synonym seasoner, are derived from this verb. These nouns refer to ‘something, such as a spice or herb, used to flavor food’, as well as to ‘the act or process by which something is seasoned’ (AHD).

You may wonder if the verb to season is related to the noun season, which means primarily ‘each of the four divisions of the year (spring, summer, autumn, and winter)’ (COED). It certainly does, though it is a bit of a long story. The noun season came into English in the 13th century, as a loanword from the Old French noun saison, with a same meaning it has today. The word comes ultimately from Latin noun stem sătĭōn‑ ‘a sowing, planting’, formed from the past-participle stem săt‑ of the verb serēre ‘to sow, plant’ and the noun suffix ‑iōn‑ (cf. Part II, Chapter 8; the nominative singular case form was sătĭō, and the accusative one sătĭōnem).[2] However, the Latin noun sătĭōn‑ changed its meaning in Vulgar Latin from ‘act of sowing’ to ‘time of sowing’ and, in particular, the spring, which was the main sowing season. From this meaning, the descendant of this word in French came to have the meaning it has today, namely one of the four divisions of the year.[3]

In other Romance languages, the noun meaning ‘season’ comes from a different source, such as Lat. station‑, cf. It. stagione and Sp. estación, the same word that means ‘station’. Spanish estación is obviously a loanword from Latin and not a patrimonial word. (If it were patrimonial, it would have been *estazón, just like Lat. sătĭōn‑ resulted in sazón.) Lat. stătĭō‑ is a noun formed from the stem stăt of the passive participle stătus of the verb stāre ‘to stand; to stay, remain’, the source of Sp. estar. Lat. stătĭō‑ originally meant ‘something that is standing or stationary’ but it soon came to mean ‘a place where persons or things stay or abide, a station, post, an abode, residence’. This was not, however, the word for ‘season’ in Latin. The Latin term for season was tempus (anni) ‘time (of the year)’.

What does this have to do with adding flavor to foods? It seems that the connection between ‘harvest time’ and that of ‘adding flavor’ had an intermediary. From the French noun saisson, a derived verb assaisoner developed in this language that meant ‘to ripen, to season’, i.e. ‘to be or become in the season’ (as‑saison‑er). Since foods become more flavorful as they ripen, by analogy, the verb assaisoner came eventually to mean ‘to season’, i.e. to add flavor, as when a fruit ripens. English, instead of borrowing this verb, just turned the noun season into a verb, to season, with an equivalent meaning, which is the meaning it has today. The English verb to season, meaning ‘to improve the flavor of by adding spices’, is first attested in the late 14th century. From this verb then it derived the nouns seasoning and seasoner.

The Spanish patrimonial cognate of Fr. saison and Eng. season is sazón, but it is a false friend. The noun sazón is already present in the earliest Spanish writings (Mio Cid), where it meant primarily ‘sowing time’, a sense that is now obsolete. There was also a derived meaning in Old Spanish for the word sazón, namely ‘time, period, season’. This sense of the word is now archaic. The noun sazón nowadays is quite rare but its main meaning is ‘seasoning’ as well as ‘taste, flavor’ and, in the context of fruit, ‘ripe’, as in the expression estar en sazón ‘to be ripe’, which is rare. There is a literary expression formed with this noun, a la sazón, which means ‘at that time’, which is also rare nowadays, though it is found in older writings. The noun sazón, perhaps because it came to have a multiplicity of senses, came into disuse.

The verb sazonar, developed in Spanish out of the noun sazón, probably under the influence of Fr. saisoner, so we can say that the two are cognates, and thus Sp. sazonar is also cognate with the English verb to season. The verb is more common than the noun and it is first attested in writing in the late 15th century. However, condimentar (see previous section) has become more common in Modern Spanish, at least in most dialects.

Some words derived from the noun sazón are more common than this noun itself. The noun desazón, an antonym of sazón, meant originally ‘lack of flavor, tastelessness, insipidness’, but it came to mean figuratively ‘grief, affliction, worry, feeling of unease’. That word is attested first in the 17th century and is still in use today, though it is mostly a literary word. Among the synonyms of desazón in Spanish we find the words inquietud, ansiedad, and desasosiego.

Related to the noun desazón are the verb desazonar, which originally meant ‘to make tasteless’, but which figuratively came to mean ‘to annoy, upset, make uneasy, worry’. Two synonyms of this verb are inquietar and intranquilizar. This verb is less common than the noun it is derived from. Derived from the verb’s past participle is the converted adjective desazonado/a, which also has both senses: the literal ‘insipid’ (synonym of soso/a ‘bland, tasteless, unsalted’) and the figurative ‘uneasy, anxious; upset’.

[GO TO PART 4]




[1] This verb is derived from the Latin verb condēre ‘to put away, store’. This verb is composed of the prefix con‑ ‘together’ and the combining form ‑dēre of the verb dāre ‘to give’, the source of Sp. dar ‘to give’.

[2] The principal parts of the verb serēre were (serō, serēre, sēvī, satum). The root of this verb goes back to Proto-Indo-European root seh1‑ from which we also get Eng. seed and semen, as well as its Spanish equivalents Sp. semilla ‘seed’ and semen. Eng. seed is patrimonial word and Eng. semen, just like its Spansih cognate semen, is a learned borrowing from Lat. sēmen ‘seed’. Sp. semilla is thought to come ultimately from Lat. semīnĭa, plural of semīnĭum. The word came presumably through a Mozarabic dialect and in the 17th century, it came to replace the traditional word for ‘seed’ in Old Spanish, simiente, also from the same root. Both of these words are derived from Lat. sēmen ‘seed’.

[3] An additional meaning of season is derived from the primary one, namely ‘a period of the year characterized by an activity or event, especially a particular sport’ (COED), e.g. hunting season, school season, football season.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Spices and herbs, Part 2: Eng. salt and Sp. sal

[This entry is an excerpt from the second section ("Condiments and seasonings") of Chapter 43 ("Spices and herbs") of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

Eng. condiment and Sp. condimento


According to one dictionary’s definition, the English word condiment refers to ‘something used to enhance the flavor of food; especially a pungent seasoning’ (MW). Another definition gives us some examples of condiments in its definition: ‘a substance such as salt, mustard, or pickle that is used to flavor food’ (COED). Seeing the word pickle in the definition may seem odd to some, but as we shall see, pickling was part of the original meaning of the word condiment. Another dictionary (OALD) mentions that a condiment may come to the table alongside the food, not necessarily in it, though it also says that is sense is found especially in North America and not in dialects of English outside North America. The OED adds another interesting aspect to the meaning of condiment that other dictionaries do not mention, namely that it is ‘anything of pronounced flavor used to season or give relish to food, or to stimulate the appetite’.

Eng. condiment /ˈkɒn.dɪ.mənt/ comes Old French condiment, from Latin condīmĕntum ‘spice, seasoning, sauce’, a noun derived from the fourth conjugation verb condīre (condiō, condīre, condīvī, condītum), with the noun suffix ‑ment‑ (cond+i+ment+um) (cf. Part I, Chapters 5 and 8). Lat. condīre meant first of all ‘to put fruit in vinegar, wine, spices, etc., to preserve, pickle’ and, derived from it, ‘to embalm, mummify’ (LS). Secondarily, when said of food, this verb could also mean ‘to make savory, to season, spice’.[1]

French borrowed the noun condiment from Latin in the 13th century and English borrowed it from French in the 15th century. Spanish condimento is supposedly a loanword from Latin but given the fact that it does not appear in writing until the 16th century, it is quite likely that Spanish got it indirectly from Latin through French, just as English did.

Spanish has an archaic, if not obsolete, patrimonial verb condir derived from Lat. condīre, which means ‘to season’. Old Spanish had a second, unrelated verb condir, this one descended from Lat. condĕre ‘to put together, build, establish, etc.’, and which is truly obsolete nowadays. There is a remnant of the verb condĕre in our languages, however, namely the cognate nouns Eng. condition and Sp. condición, which come from Latin condĭtĭo (stem: condĭtĭōn‑), which in Latin meant ‘a making, creating’, and in Medieval Latin ‘status, position, circumstances’. It is derived from the passive participle stem condĭt‑ of the verb condĕre and the ‑iōn‑ ending used to form nouns out of verbs. There was another identical noun condĭtĭo in Latin, this one derived from the Latin verb condīre ‘to season’, which is the source of condiment. It meant ‘a preserving of fruits’ or ‘a spicing, seasoning, flavoring’ (‘the act of seasoning’). This noun, however, not been passed on to either English or Spanish.

From the nouns Eng. condiment and Sp. condimento, both English and Spanish have created verbs meaning ‘to season’. English has the verb to condiment, which is a rare alternative to the verb to season. In Spanish, the verb Sp. condimentar, which was first mentioned in the DRAE only in 1843, has become a common alternative to the verb sazonar, the traditional verb that meant ‘to season’ and a cognate of the English verb to season. Sp. sazonar is perhaps becoming obsolete in at least some Spanish dialects. This could be because condimentar has a noun it goes with, condimento, whereas sazonar does not anymore, as we shall see in the next section.

Eng. season and Sp. sazonar


Perhaps the most common verb that expresses the act of adding condiments to food in English is to season /ˈsi.zən/. Its primary meaning is ‘to improve or enhance the flavor of (food) by adding salt, spices, herbs, or other flavorings’. The noun seasoning /ˈsi.zən.ɪŋ/, as well as its less common synonym seasoner, are derived from this verb. These nouns refer to ‘something, such as a spice or herb, used to flavor food’, as well as to ‘the act or process by which something is seasoned’ (AHD).

You may wonder if the verb to season is related to the noun season, which means primarily ‘each of the four divisions of the year (spring, summer, autumn, and winter)’ (COED). It certainly does, though it is a bit of a long story. The noun season came into English in the 13th century, as a loanword from the Old French noun saison, with a same meaning it has today. The word comes ultimately from Latin noun stem sătĭōn‑ ‘a sowing, planting’, formed from the past-participle stem săt‑ of the verb serēre ‘to sow, plant’ and the noun suffix ‑iōn‑ (cf. Part II, Chapter 8; the nominative singular case form was sătĭō, and the accusative one sătĭōnem).[2] However, the Latin noun sătĭōn‑ changed its meaning in Vulgar Latin from ‘act of sowing’ to ‘time of sowing’ and, in particular, the spring, which was the main sowing season. From this meaning, the descendant of this word in French came to have the meaning it has today, namely one of the four divisions of the year.[3]

In other Romance languages, the noun meaning ‘season’ comes from a different source, such as Lat. station‑, cf. It. stagione and Sp. estación, the same word that means ‘station’. Spanish estación is obviously a loanword from Latin and not a patrimonial word. (If it were patrimonial, it would have been *estazón, just like Lat. sătĭōn‑ resulted in sazón.) Lat. stătĭō‑ is a noun formed from the stem stăt of the passive participle stătus of the verb stāre ‘to stand; to stay, remain’, the source of Sp. estar. Lat. stătĭō‑ originally meant ‘something that is standing or stationary’ but it soon came to mean ‘a place where persons or things stay or abide, a station, post, an abode, residence’. This was not, however, the word for ‘season’ in Latin. The Latin term for season was tempus (anni) ‘time (of the year)’.

What does this have to do with adding flavor to foods? It seems that the connection between ‘harvest time’ and that of ‘adding flavor’ had an intermediary. From the French noun saisson, a derived verb assaisoner developed in this language that meant ‘to ripen, to season’, i.e. ‘to be or become in the season’ (as‑saison‑er). Since foods become more flavorful as they ripen, by analogy, the verb assaisoner came eventually to mean ‘to season’, i.e. to add flavor, as when a fruit ripens. English, instead of borrowing this verb, just turned the noun season into a verb, to season, with an equivalent meaning, which is the meaning it has today. The English verb to season, meaning ‘to improve the flavor of by adding spices’, is first attested in the late 14th century. From this verb then it derived the nouns seasoning and seasoner.

The Spanish patrimonial cognate of Fr. saison and Eng. season is sazón, but it is a false friend. The noun sazón is already present in the earliest Spanish writings (Mio Cid), where it meant primarily ‘sowing time’, a sense that is now obsolete. There was also a derived meaning in Old Spanish for the word sazón, namely ‘time, period, season’. This sense of the word is now archaic. The noun sazón nowadays is quite rare but its main meaning is ‘seasoning’ as well as ‘taste, flavor’ and, in the context of fruit, ‘ripe’, as in the expression estar en sazón ‘to be ripe’, which is rare. There is a literary expression formed with this noun, a la sazón, which means ‘at that time’, which is also rare nowadays, though it is found in older writings. The noun sazón, perhaps because it came to have a multiplicity of senses, came into disuse.

The verb sazonar, developed in Spanish out of the noun sazón, probably under the influence of Fr. saisoner, so we can say that the two are cognates, and thus Sp. sazonar is also cognate with the English verb to season. The verb is more common than the noun and it is first attested in writing in the late 15th century. However, condimentar (see previous section) has become more common in Modern Spanish, at least in most dialects.

Some words derived from the noun sazón are more common than this noun itself. The noun desazón, an antonym of sazón, meant originally ‘lack of flavor, tastelessness, insipidness’, but it came to mean figuratively ‘grief, affliction, worry, feeling of unease’. That word is attested first in the 17th century and is still in use today, though it is mostly a literary word. Among the synonyms of desazón in Spanish we find the words inquietud, ansiedad, and desasosiego.

Related to the noun desazón are the verb desazonar, which originally meant ‘to make tasteless’, but which figuratively came to mean ‘to annoy, upset, make uneasy, worry’. Two synonyms of this verb are inquietar and intranquilizar. This verb is less common than the noun it is derived from. Derived from the verb’s past participle is the converted adjective desazonado/a, which also has both senses: the literal ‘insipid’ (synonym of soso/a ‘bland, tasteless, unsalted’) and the figurative ‘uneasy, anxious; upset’.

[GO TO PART 3]




[1] This verb is derived from the Latin verb condēre ‘to put away, store’. This verb is composed of the prefix con‑ ‘together’ and the combining form ‑dēre of the verb dāre ‘to give’, the source of Sp. dar ‘to give’.

[2] The principal parts of the verb serēre were (serō, serēre, sēvī, satum). The root of this verb goes back to Proto-Indo-European root seh1‑ from which we also get Eng. seed and semen, as well as its Spanish equivalents Sp. semilla ‘seed’ and semen. Eng. seed is patrimonial word and Eng. semen, just like its Spansih cognate semen, is a learned borrowing from Lat. sēmen ‘seed’. Sp. semilla is thought to come ultimately from Lat. semīnĭa, plural of semīnĭum. The word came presumably through a Mozarabic dialect and in the 17th century, it came to replace the traditional word for ‘seed’ in Old Spanish, simiente, also from the same root. Both of these words are derived from Lat. sēmen ‘seed’.

[3] An additional meaning of season is derived from the primary one, namely ‘a period of the year characterized by an activity or event, especially a particular sport’ (COED), e.g. hunting season, school season, football season.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Embarrassing pregnancies, Part 2: Spanish vergüenza and pena

[This entry is an excerpt from the second section of Chapter 3 of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An (Unorthodox) Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

Sp. vergüenza


If embarazar does not mean ‘to embarrass’ and embarazado/a does not mean ‘embarrassed’, then how do we express these meanings in Spanish? The most widespread Spanish equivalents for these words in standard Spanish are avergonzar for the verb embarrass and avergonzado/a for the adjective embarrassed. However, Spanish prefers to use neither the adjective nor the verb, but rather the related noun vergüenza /beɾ.ˈɡu̯en.θa/ to express these meanings, along with the verbs dar, tener, or sentir. Thus, what a student who is too shy to speak up in class would probably say something one of the following where an English student might say ‘I am embarrassed (by it)’:
  • Me da vergüenza, lit. ‘It gives me embarrassment’, i.e. ‘It embarrasses me’
  • Tengo vergüenza, lit. ‘I have embarrassment’
  • Siento vergüenza, lit. ‘I feel embarrassment’

Either one of these three ways is more common than Estoy avergonzado/a, with the adjective, or Me avergüenza, with the verb. These last two sentences are quite acceptable Spanish sentences, but their meaning is quite a bit stronger than ‘I am embarrassed’, since they express more a sense of ‘shame’ than ‘embarrassment’, though the two concepts are somehow related. Thus, the sentence Estoy avergonzado/a can be best translated as I am ashamed and the sentence Me avergüenza as It makes me feel ashamed.

The patrimonial noun vergüenza comes from Lat. vĕrēcŭndĭa ‘shamefacedness, shame’, ‘bashfulness, shyness’, and even ‘respect’, that is, ‘a natural and positive feeling of shame (face loss), by whatever cause it is produced’. This noun was derived from the adjective vĕrēcŭndus (fem. vĕrēcŭnda, stem: vĕrēcund‑) and the suffix ‑ia which created abstract nouns typically out of adjectives, as in this case (cf. Part I, Chapters 5 and 8). The adjective vĕrēcundus meant ‘feeling shame (at any thing good or bad); bashful, shy, etc.’.[1] This adjective was itself derived from the second-conjugation deponent verb verērī ‘to respect, revere, fear’, a verb that is cognate with the English adjective aware, since they both descend from the same Proto-Indo-European root. (The principal parts of this Latin verb are vereor, verērī, veritus sum.)

The reason for these differences in meaning of vergüenza and the words derived from it is that vergüenza is a polysemous word, namely one that has more than one meaning (sense), as often happens in language (cf. Part I, Chapter 6). Most English-Spanish dictionaries tell us that the noun vergüenza has three major senses, one of which is sometimes divided into two subsenses:
  • Embarrassment/shyness, with two subsenses
    • Subsense 1: Shyness
      • Meaning: ‘bashfulness’, ‘shyness’, i.e. ‘feeling bad about doing something which might make you lose face or feel humiliation’
      • Synonyms: timidez, corte(dad), apocamiento
      • Examples: Me da vergüenza hablar en clase or Tengo vergüenza de hablar en clase ‘I’m embarrassed about speaking in class’
    •  Subsense 2: Embarrassment
      • Meaning:  ‘embarrassment’, i.e. ‘feeling bad about something that happens to you that might make you lose face or feel humiliation’
      • Synonyms: turbación, sonrojo, sensación de ridículo, rubor, bochorno
      • Examples: Me dio vergüenza cuando me caí or Pasé vergüenza cuando me caí ‘I was embarrassed when I fell down’
  • Sense of shame
    • Synonyms: sentido del decoro, deshonor, sentimiento de dignidad,
    • Example: No tienes vergüenza ‘You have no (sense of) shame’, ‘You should be ashamed of yourself’
  • Something disgraceful (that causes or should cause embarrassment or shame)
    • Synonyms: escándalo, motivo de oprobio
    • Example: Estos precios son una vergüenza ‘These prices are outrageous, disgraceful’

The first sense is the one that is the one that compares to Eng. embarrassment and embarrassed. Notice that this sense has two subsenses. The first one refers to the uneasy feeling about doing something that may cause embarrassment. Eng. shyness and (the somewhat archaic) bashfulness are probably the best equivalents of this sense of the noun vergüenza when this noun is used as an abstract noun. When it is used to express how a person feels at a particular moment, as in No tengas vergüenza ‘Don’t be shy/embarrassed’, the equivalent in English can be the adjective embarrassed (as well as shy or bashful, of course).

The noun timidez is a synonym of this sense of vergüenza, a word that translates as bashfulness, shyness. The noun timidez is derived from the adjective tímido/a ‘shy’ by means of the suffix -ez that creates abstract nouns out of adjectives in Spanish, after removing the inflexional ending ‑o/a (tímid-ez, cf. Part I, Chapter 5). The adjective tímido/a, of course, is cognate of Eng. timid, and it is a synonym of the Spanish adjective vergonzoso/a that we mentioned earlier. Sp. tímido also translates Eng. shy, which is much more common than its synonym timid. Both Eng. timid and Sp. tímido are learned loanwords from the Latin adjective tĭmĭdus/tĭmĭda ‘fearful, afraid, faint-hearted, cowardly, timid’ (English borrowed it in the mid-16th century and Spanish in the late 15th century). This Latin adjective was derived from the root tĭm‑ of the verb tĭmēre ‘to fear, be afraid, be fearful, be apprehensive, dread’, the source of patrimonial Sp. temer, with the same meaning. Another pair of cognates derived from the same root are Eng. intimidate and Sp. intimidar.[2]

The second subsense of the first sense of the noun vergüenza is the one closest to the English noun embarrassment (synonym: ‘anxiety, worry’) and thus to the adjective embarrassed when the noun vergüenza is used to describe how a person is feeling. It refers to the uneasy feeling about something that has happened that is seen as being embarrassing or anxiety provoking. Note that the expression dar vergüenza can be used with both subsenses, whereas pasar vergüenza can only be used with the second subsense. The expression tener vergüenza, on the other hand, can only be used with the first one.

The second major sense of vergüenza is ‘shame’, a sense much stronger than ‘embarrassment’, but one that shares with it the sense of ‘loss of face’, i.e. ‘loss of respectability in front of others’.  The word vergüenza with this ‘strong’ sense of ‘shame’ is used in a number of expressions. One of them is tener vergüenza, which we just saw could be used with the sense of the first subsense of the first sense. The noun vergüenza can also have the strong sense of ‘shame’ in the expression dar vergüenza, if used in the right context. Thus, for instance, the sentence Debería darte vergüenza can probably best be translated (typically) as You should be ashamed and not You should be embarrassed.

Spanish
English

vergüenza
embarrassment
small face-loss
shame
big face-loss

As we saw earlier, the expression dar vergüenza can also be used to translate the English verb to embarrass or to make (one) feel embarrassed/embarrassment, as in Me dio vergüenza lo que hizo mi hijo ‘What my son did made me feel embarrassed’. Another way to express this verb’s transitive meaning is hacer pasar vergüenza ‘to make (someone) feel embarrassment’.

Words related to vergüenza


There are a number of words derived from Sp. vergüenza. In addition to dar vergüenza and hacer pasar vergüenza, there is also a transitive verb avergonzar (a‑vergonz‑ar; o > ue). Like the noun, it can have both the strong and the weak senses, namely ‘cause shame’ and ‘cause embarrassment’.  We find the strong sense in a sentence such as in Mi novia me avergonzó delante de mis padres ‘My fiancée embarrassed/shamed me in front of my parents’. This verb is most commonly used reflexively, that is, as intransitive avergonzarse (de) ‘to feel shame/embarrassment (about)’, as in Me avergüenzo de lo que he hecho ‘I am ashamed/embarrassed of/for what I’ve done’. Sometimes, one of the two senses comes through more clearly, as in Me avergüenzo de ti ‘I’m ashamed of you’. From the past participle of the verb avergonzar we get the adjective avergonzado/a ‘ashamed’ or ‘embarrassed’ (a‑vergonz‑ado/a).

The Latin adjective vĕrēcŭndus that we saw in the previous section was not passed on to Spanish as a patrimonial word and it was not borrowed from Latin later either. Rather, Spanish developed the adjectives from the noun vergüenza. One is vergonzoso/a (vergonz-os-o/a), which has two senses: (1) ‘causing shame, shameful, disgraceful, etc.’, as in un asunto vergonzoso ‘a shameful matter’ or Tus palabras fueron vergonzosas ‘Your words were shameful’. The other sense, not surprisingly, is  ‘shy, bashful’, as in un niño vergonzoso ‘a shy boy’ or Soy vergonzoso ‘I’m shy’ (equivalent to Tengo vergüenza).

The other adjective related to vergüenza is actually derived from the past participle of a verb derived from the noun vergüenza, namely avergonzar (a-vergonz-ar), whose two main senses are ‘to cause shame; to cause embarrassment’. This transitive verb is often used as an intransitive in its reflexive form avergonzarse, also with two meanings: ‘to be or become ashamed’ and ‘to be or become embarrassed’. The participle of this verb is avergonzado/a, which can be used as an adjective, also meaning either ‘ashamed’ or ‘embarrassed’.

The word sinvergüenza, formed from the preposition sin ‘without’ and the noun vergüenza  can be used as an adjective with the strong sense meaning something like ‘shameless’, as in No seas sinvergüenza ‘Don’t be shameless’. It can also be used as a noun and, as such, it translates as ‘shameless (person)’ or ‘scoundrel’, e.g. Juan es un sinvergüenza ‘Juan is a scoundrel’. Sometimes, however, the word is used tongue-in-cheek in contexts in which the word is not quite as strong, especially when employed often to refer to children who misbehave. Then the adjective is best translated as cheeky or rascally and the noun as rascal or brat.

Since the preposition sin ‘without’ is not used commonly as a prefix in Spanish, the word sinvergüenza is obviously derived from the phrase sin vergüenza, lit. ‘without shame’, as in una persona sin vergüenza or un tipo sin vergüenza ‘a person without shame’.[3]  If we drop the noun, we get the noun phrase with the same meaning, namely un(a) sin vergüenza, in which the prepositional phrase sin vergüenza ‘without shame’ has been nominalized (become a noun), namely sinvergüenza ‘shameless’ or ‘shameless person’.

Derived from sinvergüenza is the noun sinvergonzonería that means ‘shameful act, impudence, shamelessness’ or, more properly, ‘the quality of being a sinvergüenza’ or ‘an act typical of a sinvergüenza’. It is formed from the colloquial augmentative of sinvergüenza, namely sinvergonzón, and the ending ‑er‑ía (sin‑vergonz‑on‑er‑ía).

3. Sp. pena


The word vergüenza is not the only way to express the meaning of ‘embarrassment’ in Spanish. Perhaps because this word has two major senses (‘embarrassment’ and ‘shame’), in some dialects, the word pena is used to express the weak sense instead of vergüenza. According to the DLE, in Central America, the Caribbean islands, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela, the word pena is used instead of vergüenza for the sense of ‘bashfulness’ or ‘embarrassment’. In some countries, namely Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama, the word pena is also equivalent to the related sense of the word pudor ‘modesty, sense of decency, decorum, bashfulness’, so that in these dialects the meaning of pena extends to embarrassment about the display of one’s body and behavior that is considered immodest.

In these countries, the noun pena is used with this sense of bashfulness with the verbs tener ‘to have’, sentir ‘to feel’, or dar ‘to give’, as in Tengo pena, Siento pena, or Me da pena translate in these dialects as ‘I’m embarrassed’ (equivalent to Me da vergüenza in other dialects, such as those found in Spain). The very common phrase Don’t be embarrassed translates in these dialects as No tengas pena.

The expressions that we have just seen would be interpreted very different in other countries, such as Spain, for instance, since there the word pena does not have this meaning. In those other countries, pena translates primarily as pity (or as shame, but only in the phrase What a shame!, equivalent to What a pity!). In the plural, penas typically means ‘sorrows’ and in legal terminology pena can mean ‘penalty’. The word pena comes from Lat. poena ‘penalty, punishment’, which was a loan from Gk. ποινή ‎(poinḗ) ‘penalty, fine, blood money’.

The English noun pain is a cognate of Sp. pena, but they are false friends since their senses are different. Eng. pain was borrowed from French in the late 13th century with the sense of ‘penalty’. Since judicial penalties in those days involved the infliction of pain (torture), it is no surprise that the word pain came to acquire the meaning it currently has in English, though not in Spanish.

The main sense of Eng. pain translates into Spanish as dolor. Do note that dolor is also an English word, albeit a rare one. It means ‘grief, sorrow’. They come from Lat. dolor (acc. dolōr-em), which meant primarily ‘pain, ache’, but also ‘anguish, grief, sorrow’ and ‘indignation, anger’.

In Spanish, pena can still mean ‘punishment’, as it did in Latin, so that pena de muerte means ‘death penalty’, but that is not its main meaning nowadays. (Eng. penalty is derived from the same root; the expression pain of death is still used as equivalent to dealth penalty.) As we said, the main sense of pena in standard Spanish is ‘grief, sorrow, pity’. It is used very often in sentences such as Juan me da pena ‘I feel sorry for Juan’ and ¡Qué pena! ‘What a pity’, and Siento pena ‘I feel sorry’. It is obviously from this sense of ‘grief, sorrow, pity’ that the ‘embarrassment’ sense was derived for the word pena in certain collocations and in certain countries (though not all).




[1] In Old Spanish, the noun vergüença, the precursor of Mod.Sp. vergüenza, alternated with a synonym vergüeña (cognate of Catalan vergonya). Corominas thinks that vergüeña is the true patrimonial word whereas vergüenza comes from a semi-learned Medieval pronunciation vergundia, which later became vergunzia (/beɾ.ɡun.ʣ̪i̯a/), verguinza (/beɾ.ɡui̯n.ʣ̪a/), and eventually vergüenza. French lost this Latin word and its meaning is expressed in French by the noun honte /ˈɔ̃t/ ‘shame’, from Frankish *haunitha ‘disdain, scorn, ridicule’. By the way, Eng. shame is a patrimonial word that descends from O.Eng. scamu (also attested as scomu, sceamu, sceomu), which also meant ‘shame’. The plural of the noun vergüenza, namely vergüenzas, is also a euphemism for ‘private parts’.

[2] Derived from the verb tĭmēre Latin had the noun tĭmor (accusative: tĭmōrem), meaning ‘fear, dread’, which is the source of the Spanish noun temor, with the same meaning. Another word derived, in Spanish, from this noun is atemorizar ‘to frighten, scare; to terrorize’. From the verb temer, Spanish has also derived the adjective temeroso/a ‘fearful’.

[3] Another words formed on this pattern is sintecho, lit. ‘without roof’, which is one way to refer to a ‘homeless person’.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Personal names, Part 1: Introduction

[This entry is an excerpt from the first section of Chapter 44 ("Personal Names") of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An (Unorthodox) Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

Our name is something that we are attached to for life.[i] There are exceptions, of course, such as when women in some cultures change their last name from their father’s family name to their husband’s one, an ancient patriarchal tradition. However, for the most part, the name we are given at birth follows us until we die.

Naming conventions are similar in many different cultures and countries, though there are many differences as well. As we will see, this is true of the customs in Spanish-speaking (Hispanophone) and the English-speaking (Anglophone) countries, which share similarities but are not identical.[ii] In this chapter, we will look at naming conventions, as well as the origin of some very common names, including a fair number of Spanish-English cognate names.

Different as they obviously seem at first sight, the English word name and the Spanish word nombre ‘name’ are historical cognates, going back to the same source in Proto-Indo-European. Also, they are both native words in their languages, not borrowed. English name comes from Old English nama, and Spanish nombre comes from Latin nōmen (same in the nominative and the accusative). Both, in turn, are derived from Proto-Indo-European root *nomn- with the same meaning.

The Ancient Greek equivalent of this word was ὄνομα (ónoma) ‘name’, which in the Doric and Aolic dialects was νυμα (ónuma). This latter wordform survives in the cognate form Eng. ‑onym ~ Sp. -ónimo in words that we have seen in this book, such as synonym and homonym (see Part I, Chapter 6). English words ending in ‑onym are nouns and their derived adjectives end in ‑onymous. Spanish words in ‑ónimo are nouns as well as adjectives. Other common words from this Greek root are the following (in total there are around 60 words in English that end in ‑onym, many of them recent New Latin creations):
  • Eng. pseudonym /ˈsʊ.də.nɪm/ ~ Sp. seudónimo: ‘a fictitious name, especially one used by an author’ (COED); it is a 19th century back-formation from the adjective pseudonymous, which comes ultimately from Gr. ψευδώνυµος ‘under a false name, falsely named’, from the prefix ψευδο- (pseudo-), combining form of ψευδής (pseudḗs) ‘false’
  • Eng. eponym /ˈɛ.pə.nɪm/ ~ Sp. epónimo: ‘a word or name derived from the name of a person’ (COED); a back formation from the Greek adjective ἐπώνυμος (epṓnumos) ‘named in a significant manner, with a significant name; concerning giving one's name to something’, from ἐπί (epí) ‘upon’
  • Eng. toponym /ˈtɒ.pə.nɪm/ ~ Sp. topónimo: ‘a place name, especially one derived from a topographical feature’ (COED); first coined in the 19th century, with τοπο-, combining form of Gk. τόπος (tópos) ‘place’
  • Eng. ethnonym /ˈɛθ.nə.nɪm/ ~ Sp. etnónimo (synonym of gentilicio): ‘the name of a people or ethnic group’ (AHD); coined first in English in the 1960s; from Gk. ἔθνος (éthnos) ‘a company’ and later ‘a people, nation’ (the combining form ethn(o)‑ is used in other words such as ethnography)[1]
  • Eng. acronym /ˈæ.kɹə.nɪm/ ~ Sp. acrónimo (synonym of siglas) ‘a word formed from the initial letters of other words (e.g. laser, Aids)’ (COED); coined first in German in the early 20th century; found in English in the 1940s; acro­‑ is from Gr. ἀκρο- combining form of ἄκρος ‘a tip, point, extremity, peak, summit’

Another common word that contain this morpheme is Eng. anonymous ~ Sp. anónimo/a, adjectives that mean primarily ‘not identified by name; of unknown identity’, as well as ‘having no individual or unusual features’ (COED). They are loanwords from Lat. anōnymus, which is a loanword from Gk. ἀνώνυµος, formed with the privative prefix ἀν ‘without’.

Although, as we saw, the word name /ˈneɪ̯m/ is patrimonial (not borrowed), English has also borrowed a descendant of Latin nōmen, namely the word noun /ˈnaʊ̯n/, which was taken in the 14th century from Anglo-Norman French. English noun is used in grammar to refer to ‘a word (other than a pronoun) used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things (common noun), or to name a particular one of these (proper noun)’ (COED). The reason for calling these words nouns is that in the Latin grammatical tradition a noun was called nomen substantivum ‘self-existing name’. That is also the source of the Spanish equivalent word in Spanish grammar, namely sustantivo, taken from the second part of that phase, not the first one. However, the word nombre is also used in some contexts to refer to nouns, as in nombre común ‘common noun’ (lit. ‘common name’) and nombre propio ‘proper noun’ (lit. ‘own name’).[iii] In other words, Sp. nombre can translate either name or noun.

The word name refers to ‘a word or term used for identification’ (Wikipedia) or ‘a word or set of words by which someone or something is known, addressed, or referred to’ (COED). And, as we saw in the definition of noun, a name can refer to a single thing or individual, which is a proper noun, or to a category of things or individuals, a common noun. Thus, the noun ship is the name for any ‘large seagoing boat’ (among other things) (COED), which is a category of things (a common noun). We are in the habit of giving these names to categories of things in our surroundings, though some languages seem to be able to tolerate not having a name for less common things better than others. Particular individuals or members of a category have individual names (proper nouns). So, for instance, a particular ship can have its own name, such as Titanic. We tend to name ships, and even boats, but for some reason not automobiles (or trees, for that matter), though some people do name their cars, somewhat facetiously. We also typically name pets and other animals with which we have a relationship, such as large zoo animals, like tigers (though probably not snakes).

The branch of lexicography that studies proper names goes by the name of onomastics, onomástica in Spanish, a word derived (shortened) from the Greek phrase ὀνομαστική [ἐπιστήμη] (onomastiké [epistéme]), ‘[knowledge] about naming’. This word is derived from the Greek word ὄνομα (onoma) ‘name’ that we have just discussed.[iv] The study of the proper names of human beings is known as anthroponomastics (or anthroponymy), antroponimia in Spanish. Finally, the name for the study of place names is toponymy, or toponomastics (Sp. toponimia).

In this chapter we are going to look at the origin of a number of typical Spanish and English proper names, including first names and last names, as well as hypocorisms or pet names. We will pay particular attention to names that are cognate in both of these languages and many of them are, in particular first names, since they are often derived from other languages, such as Latin, Greek, or Hebrew.



[1] Anthropologists distinguish different types of names for ethnic groups depending on whether it’s the name they give themselves or the name outsiders give them. Thus an Eng. autonym ~ Sp. autónimo or Eng. endonym ~ Sp. endónimo is ‘a name used by a group or category of people to refer to themselves or their language, as opposed to a name given to them by other groups’ (e.g. Deutsche for ‘German’). The prefix auto‑ ‘self’ comes ultimately from Gk. ατός (autós) ‘self’ and endo‑ ‘inside’ comes ultimately from Gk. νδον (éndon) ‘inner; internal’. The word for a name outsiders give to a people is Eng. exonym ~ Sp. exónimo, e.g. Eng. Spain in an exonym for España. This word was formed with the prefix exo‑ ‘outside’ (opposite of endo‑), from Gk. ξω (éxō) ‘outer, external’. A recently coined synonym of ethnonym in English is demonym ‘a name for an inhabitant or native of a specific place that is derived from the name of the place’, e.g. American from America, δμος (dêmos) ‘people’.
The traditional word to refer to the name of a people in Spanish is gentilicio, a noun derived from an identical adjective which is a borrowing from the Latin adjective gentilicĭus or gentilitĭus ‘belonging to a particular Roman gens (tribe, clan, house); of a people, nation, group’, from which came the phrase nōmen gentīlicium ‘the name designating a Roman citizen as a member of a particular gens; a gentile name’. However, the noun gentilicio is not used just for ethnic groups, but for groups based on residence. Thus, in Spanish, madrileño is the gentilicio of people from Madrid. English has a (semi-)cognate of Sp. gentilicio, namely gentilic (formed in English from Lat. gentīl‑is plus the suffix ‑ic), which is primarily an adjective meaning ‘tribal, racial, national’ in the 19th century (when first coined, in the 17th century it meant something more like ‘heathen, pagan’), but which has also been used as a noun synonymous with ethnomym. This word is less common than its Spanish counterpart.




[iii] The words Eng. adjective and Sp. adjetivo, are derived from Latin adjectivum, which is short for nomen adjectivum, literally meaning ‘name thrown next to’. The words Eng. pronoun and Sp. pronombre, come from Lat. prōnōmen, lit. prō ‘instead of’ + nōmen ‘name’, which is a calque of A.Gk. ἀντωνυμία (antōnumía). Cf. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/adjective, https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pronomen#Latin

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spices and Herbs, Part 1: Introduction

[This entry is an excerpt from the first section of Chapter 43 of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

Introduction


Herbs and spices have been used for cooking for a very long time. Herbs are easy enough to come by, since in most cases they are grown locally. Spices, on the other hand, are rarer and they have been very valuable—and thus expensive—commodities since antiquity. We have evidence of the trading of spices in South Asia and the Middle East dating back some 4,000 years. They were a big part of European trade with Asia and Africa, the sources of most spices, for a long time.

The monopoly that Venice had over the spice trade from the 8th through the 15th century, and their resulting high prices, is in part what drove the Spanish and the Portuguese to search for a direct route to the source of spices, one that did not go overland through the Middle East, which at the time was part of the Ottoman empire. This eventually led to the European colonial expansion in Africa and the Americas. Columbus was not searching for a new continent when he came upon the Americas, but for a shorter route to India, the source of spices, and hence the early name for the “new” continent.[i]

The terms Indies in English and Indias in Spanish to refer to the Indian subcontinent and other parts of Asia where spices and other exotic things came from was popularized in Europe by the famous traveler Marco Polo in the 14th century. When Columbus reached the American continent, he thought he had reached the very same Indies and that is what he called this land.



Figure 124: Referents of the word Indies in English from the 16th to the 19th centuries. (1) East Indies (Indias Orientales):      (light orange): East Indies, narrowly conceived (the Indian subcontinent);     (bright orange)  East Indies broadly conceived (includes South Asia and South East Asia). (2) West Indies (Indias Occidentales):     (dark green) narrowly conceived;     (light green) broadly conceived.[ii]

The term Indias was used in Spain to refer to the American colonies until at least the 19th century. Likewise, in the British Empire the term West Indies in English (Indias Occidentales in Spanish) is used to this day to refer to Caribbean islands, in particular those that were former colonies and which are now part of the British Commonwealth. The West Indies or Indias Occidentales include three major Caribbean island groups (see Figure 125):
  • The Bahamas (Islas Bahamas or Islas Lucayas in Spanish): Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos (United Kingdom)
  • Greater Antilles (Antillas Mayores in Spanish): Cuba, Hispaniola (the island shared by Dominican Republic and Haiti), Jamaica and Puerto Rico
  • Lesser Antilles (Antillas Menores in Spanish): Anguilla (UK), Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba (Netherlands), Barbados, Bonaire (Netherlands), British Virgin Islands (UK), Curaçao (Netherlands), Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe (France), Martinique (France), Montserrat (UK), Nueva Esparta (Venezuela), Saba (Netherlands), Saint Barthélemy (France), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint-Martin (France), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius (Netherlands), Sint Maarten (Netherlands), Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, United States Virgin Islands (United States), and the Federal Dependencies of Venezuela (Venezuela)

Additionally, in the Caribbean we find the Cayman Islands (Islas Caimán), which belong to the UK and are not considered to be part of any of these groups of islands. All of these lands became colonies of Spain, France, Britain, the Netherlands, and even Denmark (St. Thomas, Saint John, and Saint Croix, which were sold to the US in 1916 and are now part of the U.S. Virgin Islands).


Figure 125: The narrow term West Indies includes three major Caribbean island groups:
   (bright orange) Bahamas (Islas Bahamas or Islas Lucayas in Spanish);
   (yellow) Greater Antilles (Antillas Mayores in Spanish);   (green) Lesser Antilles (Antillas Menores in Spanish).   (brown) The Cayman Islands (Islas Caimán).
[iii]
We should also mention that along with the terms Eng. Indies ~ Sp. Indias for the Americas or parts of the Americas, the derived terms Eng. Indian and Sp. indio were also used for a long time, and are used to this day in some places, to refer to native American peoples. These words are derived from the original place name. The word Indian has pretty much been replaced in modern times in the US by the term Native American. In Canada, these peoples are called First Nations (Premières Nations in French).  In Spanish, the term indio is still used in some places to refer to unassimilated indigenous peoples, though this term has been replaced in many contexts by the terms indígena ‘indigenous (person)’, indígena (americano) ‘indigenous (American) person’, amerindio ‘Amerindian (person)’, among other names.

1.1.1. Eng. spice ~ Sp. especia


The word spice /ˈspaɪ̯s/ in English means ‘an aromatic or pungent vegetable substance used to flavor food, e.g. pepper’ (COED). It is a 12th century borrowing from Old French espice (Modern French épice /e.ˈpis/), which comes from Late Latin (plural) spĕciēs ‘goods, wares’ and, derived from that meaning, ‘spices’. The original Latin (singular) word spĕciēs ‘kind, sort, type’ and, earlier, ‘look, appearance’ (singular and plural of this word are identical in the nominative case, but not in the other cases).

The Spanish equivalent of Eng. spice is especia, a cognate and an early, learned borrowing (mid-13th century) from the same Latin word, with the meaning this Latin word had in the plural, namely ‘spice’. The words Eng. spice ~ Sp. especia are doublets of the also learned words Eng. species ~ Sp. especie. Spanish especie is a common word in Modern Spanish, first attested in the 15th century, with the same meaning singular species had in Latin: ‘kind, sort, type’. The biological sense of especie came later, in the 17th century. The doublet of Eng. spice, namely species /ˈs.pi.ʃis/, entered the language in the late 14th century as a term in logic and in the early 17th century it came to take on its current biological sense.

The Latin noun spĕciēs is itself derived from the root of the Old Latin verb specĕre ‘to observe, watch, look at’ (speciō, specere, spexī, spectum), with the suffix ‑iēs, which was used to create abstract nouns. From the root of the verb specĕre we get many English and Spanish cognates, such as Eng. inspect ~ Sp. inspeccionar, Eng. prospect ~ Sp. prospecto, Eng. respect ~ Sp. respeto/respecto, Eng. perspective ~ Sp. perspectiva, Eng. specimen ~ Sp. espécimen, Eng. spectacle ~ Sp. espectáculo, Eng. specify ~ Sp. especificar, Eng. specific ~ Sp. específico. All of these words are learned borrowings, but Spanish also has a patrimonial word that contains the Latin root spec‑, namely Sp. espejo ‘mirror’. The Latin root goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root *speḱ‑, which gave us patrimonial words in Germanic languages, such as spy in English.

Latin had an adjective derived from the noun spĕciēs by addition of the adjectival suffix ‑āl‑, namely the third declension adjective masc./fem. speciālis ‎(speci+āl+is; neuter speciāle). Its meaning was ‘specific, particular, individual’. This adjective came into English in the 12th century as special, through French special (also written especial and especiel, Mod.Fr. spécial) ‘special, particular, unusual’. A number of words have been derived from this adjective: Eng. especially & specially[1] ~ Sp. especialmente, Eng. specialty ~ Sp. especialidad, Eng. specialist ~ Sp. especialista, Eng. specific ~ Sp. específico, Eng. specify ~ Sp. especificar, and Eng. specialize ~ Sp. especializarse.


1.1.2. Eng. herb ~ Sp. hierba


The English word herb, pronounced /ˈɜɹb/ or /ˈhɜɹb/, depending on the dialect, is used to refer to certain culinary and medicinal plants.[iv] Its popular meaning is ‘any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume’, though technically in botany it means ‘any seed-bearing plant which does not have a woody stem and dies down to the ground after flowering’ (COED).

The source of the word herb is Latin hĕrba, though the Latin word was broader in meaning, since it meant ‘grass’, ‘green crops’, and ‘herb’. The Spanish patrimonial descendant of Lat. hĕrba is hierba, which has the same meaning as its Latin source, namely ‘grass’ and, in the right context, and especially in the plural, hierba can have the same meaning as the ‘popular’ meaning of Eng. herb.

English
Spanish
grass
hierba
herb

English got the noun herb from Old French erb in the 13th century. Old French, like Old Spanish and even post-first-century Latin, did not pronounce the Latin h and in some cases, such as this one, it did not write it either. English reintroduced the h to the spelling of this word in the 15th century, to make it look more like the Latin original and, for at least some English speakers, this h began to be pronounced in the 19th century, a phenomenon known as spelling pronunciation (cf. Part I, Chapter 3, §3.6.4.9, and Chapter 4, §4.6).[2]

Spanish hierba, pronounced /ˈʝeɾ.ba/ reflects the diphthongization of Latin short ĕ to ie [i̯e], with the expected consonantization of an initial [i̯] to [ʝ] (the initial i becomes a consonant; the pronunciation is [j] in some dialects, at least in some contexts). Sometimes one hears this word pronounced [i.ˈeɾ.ba] (or even [ˈi̯eɾ.ba]), which seems to be nothing but a spelling pronunciation. There is an alternative spelling for this word (same pronunciation), namely yerba. This spelling is most commonly used in collocations such as (1) yerba buena, a perennial herb of North America (same in English, since it is a 19th century borrowing from Spanish, as we will see later on), and (2) yerba mate or yerba maté, another name for maté, an Andean plant that is used in infusions (the name comes from the Quechua word mati; in English it is called yerba maté and the Latin botanical name is ilex paraguariensis).

Some dialects of Spanish do not use the word hierba for the meaning ‘grass’, preferring alternatives such as pasto, lit. ‘pasture’, grama, lit. a type of grass, and césped, lit. ‘lawn’. In some countries and among some people the word hierba is used to refer to marijuana, much like grass used to have that meaning in English in the late 20th century.

[GO TO PART 2]



[1] There are two ways to spell this word in English and supposedly each spelling corresponds to a different meaning or usage, though that is probably not widely known. OALD explains the supposed difference between especially and specially, one that is probably rather artificial to most English speakers: “Especially usually means ‘particularly’: She loves all sports, especially swimming. It is not placed first in a sentence: I especially like sweet things [OK]. *Especially I like sweet things [not OK]. Specially usually means ‘for a particular purpose’ and is often followed by a past participle, such as designed, developed or made: a course specially designed to meet your needs, She has her clothes specially made in Paris. In BrE, especially and specially are often used in the same way and it can be hard to hear the difference when people speak. Specially is less formal: I bought this especially/specially for you. It is especially/specially important to remember this.

[2] The French borrowings haste /ˈheɪ̯st/ and hostel /ˈhɒs.təl/ are examples of the many words where the spelling pronunciation has succeeded, even though the h’s in these words were originally silent. The h in other French borrowings has remained silent, as in honor, honest, hour, and heir. In other cases, such as humble, human and humor, the h is pronounced in some dialects but not in others. The h in English patrimonial Germanic words, such as in happy and hot, is always pronounced.




[ii] «Las Indias» by user Maulucioni, derived from image by user Deepak, Wikipedia en español. Disponible bajo la licencia Dominio público vía Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Las_Indias.png
[iii] «CaribbeanIslandGroups». Publicado bajo la licencia Dominio público vía Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CaribbeanIslandGroups.png

Greek letters in the names of fraternities and honor societies

[This entry is an excerpt from Chapter 52, "The names of fraternities and honor societies", of Part II of the open-source textbook...