Thursday, June 29, 2017

The names of the days of the week, Part 8: The word for 'day'

[This entry comes from a section of Chapter 20 ("The names of the days of the week") of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

Sp. día (and Eng. day)


The Spanish word for ‘day’ is día /ˈdi.a/. Learners of Spanish are well aware that this is one of those odd words that end in ‑a in Spanish that is masculine. However, most masculine words that end in ‑a in Spanish come from Greek, where the ending ‑a was not associated with feminine gender, but this is not one of them. This word’s gender is truly unusual, from the very beginning in Latin, as we shall see.

The source of Sp. día is the fifth declension Latin noun diēs, which was originally diūs.[1] As usual, Vulgar Latin words derived from the accusative word form, in this case diĕ(m), not from the nominative one diēs. The Latin fifth declension was a minor and unusual one (cf. Part I, Chapter 8, §8.4.2.1). Although fifth declension nouns were feminine, the word diēs could also be masculine in some contexts. It was primarily feminine, especially when being personified as a goddess and in some other contexts, but it could be masculine as well, especially in the plural. Because it was primarily feminine, this word was changed to *dia in Vulgar Latin, adopting the ending ‑a associated with first declension feminine nouns. This was just one of the many changes that took place in Vulgar Latin that resulted in simplification of a complex system and obliteration of irregularities. However, in the end, in Spanish, this noun, despite its ‑a ending, did not stay feminine even partially and eventually became an exclusively masculine noun.

Latin diēs ‘day’ has been derived from the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European root *dyew- found in this protolanguage’s word for ‘heaven, sky’ as well as the verb meaning ‘to shine’ (cf. Proto-Italic nominative *djous accusative *djēm), the same root that gave us the name of the god Jupiter, as we shall see when we discuss the word jueves ‘Thursday’ (cf. §20.6). This reconstruction, however, presents us with a mystery, for PIE dy‑ (before a vowel) should not have resulted in Latin di‑, but rather, in i‑, as we will see in the case of the name of the god Jupiter (Iove). The reason for this unexpected preservation of the initial d‑ in this word is not clear. As the meaning of the source root indicates, the word for ‘day’ originally referred to the daylight hours of the day only, not to a whole 24-hour period as it does today.

Contrary to what one might have thought, the English word day /ˈdeɪ̯/ is not a cognate of Sp. día and, thus, of Lat diēs, according to the meaning of the word cognate used in this book: ‘two words with a common source’. Eng. day was dæġ in Old English and it is cognate of German Tag, since they both descend from Proto-Germanic *dagaz ‘day’. It is thought to be related to (cognate with, i.e. containing the same root as) Russian жечь (žečʹ) ‘to burn’, Sanskrit दाह (dāha) ‘heat’, Lithuanian dagas ‘hot season’, and Old Prussian dagis ‘summer’. It is also the same root found in the name of the Anglo-Saxon god Tig, genitive Tiwes, which is found in the word Tuesday (cf. §20.10 below).  These words have been reconstructed as coming from the Proto-Indo-European root *dʰegʷʰ‑, which had primarily the verbal meaning ‘to burn’. As in the case of the original word for Sp. día, the word day originally referred to the daylight hours of the day only.

Words derived from Latin diēs


Latin diurnus and diurnāta

Vulgar Latin *dia has resulted in the word for ‘day’ in several Romance languages, such as Spanish and Galician día, Portuguese and Catalan dia, Romanian zi, Sardinian dìe (feminine), Romansh di or gi, as well as archaic and colloquial Italian ).

In other Romance languages, however, the word for ‘day’ comes from a Latin word derived from Lat. diēs (actually, from the original *diūs), namely diurnum. Actually, this word was an abbreviation for diurnum tempus ‘daylight time, daytime’.[2] The word diurnum was a form of the adjective diurnus (feminine diurna) ‘of the day, daily’. This adjective was formed with the suffix ‑urn‑ that creates a number of adjectives of time in Latin (nominative masculine ‑urn‑us, feminine ‑urn‑a).

From Lat. diurnum come the words for ‘day’ in several Romance languages: French jour /ˈʒuʀ/ (Old French jorn or jor), Italian giorno /ˈʤoɾ.no/, Catalan/Occitan jorn /ˈʒoɾn/, Venetian zorno, and Sicilian jornu. In some Romance languages, a descendant of Vulgar Lat. dia and a descendant of Lat. diurnum competed with each other. This was the case, for instance, in Old Occitan and Old Catalan (dia vs. jorn). In Catalan, dia won out and in (most dialects of) Occitan, jorn did.

From the same adjective diurnus (diurn-us) that gave us the word for day in some Romance languages, we get the derived Vulgar and Medieval Latin noun diurnāta for something that happens in one day, such as ‘a day’s work’ or ‘a day’s travel/journey’ or even as a synonym of the word for ‘day’. This noun was derived with the suffix ‑āt-a (diurn-āt‑a). This noun developed into Old French jornee, with the same meaning, which developed into Modern French journée /ʒuʀ.ˈne/ ‘day’, which is a synonym of jour ‘day’.

English borrowed Old French jornee and turned it into Eng. journey /ˈʤɜɹ.ni/. Its cognate Sp. jornada /xoɾ.ˈna.d̪a/ probably comes from Occitan jornada (Catalan prefers diada), a cognate of Old French jornee and related to the Occitan word jorn (see above). These two nouns are mostly false friends, however.

The noun journey appears first in English in the early 13th century with the meaning ‘a day’s work’ and later also ‘distance travelled in one day’. In Modern English, the noun journey means primarily ‘an act or instance of traveling from one place to another’ (MWC), a synonym of Eng. trip and equivalent to Sp. viaje. By the mid-14th century, the noun journey had also been turned into a verb, with the meaning ‘to travel from one place to another’ (Sp. viajar).

Spanish jornada, the cognate of Eng. journey, on the other hand, means ‘day’ (just like its Modern French cognate journée), in particular ‘work-day’, and it is a synonym of día in some specific contexts. In some dialects, however, jornada can also be used with the same meaning as Eng. journey, i.e. ‘trip’. In most dialects, however, that sense of the word is archaic. The noun jornada is found in primarily in idiomatic phrases such as jornada laboral ‘work-day’, jornada completa ‘full-time’, media jornada ‘half-time’, jornada intensiva or jornada continua ‘work-day without lunch break’ (the opposite of jornada partida ‘split workday’), doble jornada ‘double shift’. Sometimes it is just a fancy substitute for día, as it might be used in the phrase las noticias de la jornada used in a television broadcast.

Eng. diurnal and journal ~ Sp. diurno and jornal

Spanish and English have also borrowed the adjective diurnus that we just saw from Classical Latin, as learned words. Spanish just adapted its ending as diurno /di.ˈuɾ.no/ (fem. diurnal). English chose to borrow the Late Latin version of this adjective, one to which the third declension adjectival suffix ‑āl‑ had been added, namely diurnālis (diurn‑āl‑is). From this we get Eng. diurnal /daɪ̯.ˈɜɹ.nəl/, a 16th century loanword from Latin, which means the same thing as Sp. diurno/a. Each of these words has two senses: (1) ‘active mainly during the day ’, e.g. diurnal animals are those that are active during the day, and (2) ‘happening every day’, a fancy synonym of daily, e.g. diurnal rhythms are those that recur daily (MWAL).

The Latin adjective diurnālis has resulted in two cognates that are false friends, namely the nouns Eng. journal /ˈʤɜɹ.nəl/ and Sp. jornal /xoɾ.ˈnal/. The formal (sound and spelling) differences between these words and the Latin source word indicate that they are not direct loanwords from Latin but rather from a descendant language in which the word underwent several sound changes. Indeed, Eng. journal is a mid-14th century loanword from Old French jornel ‘day, day’s work’. Eng. journal currently has two major meanings or senses. One is ‘a daily record of personal news and events’ (COED), that is, a synonym of the word diary and it translates into Spanish as diario (see below). The other sense is ‘a newspaper or magazine dealing with a particular subject’ (COED), which translates into Spanish as revista (especializada) or boletín (Sp. revista also means ‘magazine’ and ‘review’). Sp. jornal is a loanword from Old Occitan jornal.

Ever since it first appeared in the language in the early 15th century, its meaning has been ‘day’s wage(s), day’s pay’. The word for ‘day laborer’, that is, ‘an unskilled worker paid by the day’ (RHWU), is jornalero/a, which is derived from jornal by the addition of the agentive suffix ‑er‑.

Eng. diary and Sp. diario

Another Latin word derived from the Lat. diēs that is diārĭum formed from the di‑ root of the word diēs and the suffix ‑ārĭum which created nouns, typically place nouns (not in this case). In classical Latin, this noun meant ‘daily allowance (typically for soldiers)’. In Late Latin, the noun diārĭum came to mean ‘diary’, that is, ‘a book in which one keeps a daily record of events and experiences’ (COED). This word has given us the learned cognates Eng. diary and Sp. diario. As we saw above, the word diary is a synonym of one of the senses of the word journal.

Actually, Latin nouns in ‑ārĭum are typically derived from the neuter form of adjectives in ‑ārĭus (fem. ‑ārĭa). So, for example, from the noun sūdor ‘sweat’ we get the adjective sūdārĭus ‘sweaty’, and from that we get the noun sūdārĭum ‘handkerchief, napkin’. Interestingly, however, there is no record of the adjective diārĭus in Classical Latin. It does appear, however, in Medieval Latin, where it meant ‘daily’ (feminine diārĭa). Spanish has borrowed and adapted this word as the adjective diario/a, also an adjective meaning ‘daily’. (Note that Eng. daily can also be used as an adverb and that translates into Spanish as diariamente, a regular adverb derived from the feminine adjective diaria, or as cada día, lit. ‘each day’ or as todos los días ‘every day’.)

[GO TO PART 9]



[1] The original nominative form of this Latin noun was *diūs, not diēs. This remains in two fossilized, idiomatic Latin phrases: (1) diūs fidius ‘the god of faith’, an appellation of Jupiter, and (2) nū diūs tertius ‘day before yesterday’ (literally ‘now the third day’). Also in the adjective diurnus ‘of the day’.

[2] There are other words in Latin that result of abbreviation of phrases with the noun tempus ‘time’. For example, the word for winter in Latin was hiems, but it was also referred to as hībernum tempus, literally ‘wintry time’. It is from the shortened form hībernum that Spanish gets its word invierno ‘winter’ (and Fr. hiver).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The names of the days of the week, Part 7: Sp. sábado and related words

[This entry comes from a section of Chapter 20 ("The names of the days of the week") of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

From Sabbath to sábado


Moving on to the weekend now, the Spanish word for Saturday, namely sábado, does not come from the name for this day in Classical Latin. Despite the coincidence of the two initial letters, the words Saturday and sábado are not in any way related either. The English word Saturday, on the other hand, is related in an interesting way to the Classical Latin name for this day of the week.

The original name for this day in Classical Latin was diēs Saturnī ‘day of Saturn’ (Lat. Saturnī is the genitive case wordform of nominiative Saturnus ‘Saturn’). The English name, Saturday, is a calque of the Latin name, as we shall see (cf. §20.9 below). However, the name for the last day of the week in Spanish comes ultimately from Hebrew. The change happened first in Ecclesiastical Latin, where this day came to be called sabbatum, which is a loanword from Biblical Greek σάββατον (sábbaton), which is an loan from Biblical Hebrew שַׁבָּת (shabát). This Hebrew word meant ‘weekly day of rest’ and it is derived from the Hebrew verb shâbath ‘to stop [working], to rest’, which may itself come from Acadian, an East Semitic language spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. From the same Hebrew root comes the verb שָׁבַת (shavát), meaning ‘to cease, to stop (working), to rest’ (as well as ‘to go on strike’ in modern times). 

In the Jewish religious tradition, from which the Christian and Muslim religious traditions stem, the šabbāt was the last day of the week and the day of rest. The word has been borrowed into English as Sabbath, which can mean ‘the seventh day of the week, Saturday, observed as the day of rest and worship by the Jews and some Christian sects’ (AHD). It can also refer to Sunday, however, which is the day of rest and worship for most Christians.

Nowadays, even in the Christian world there is variation as to whether Saturday is considered the last day of the week, as it was traditionally conceived. That is the way it is in some ways conceived in the United States, for instance, for calendars show Saturday as the last day of the week (and Sunday as the first). This clashes, however, with the modern notion of the weekend (Sp. fin de semana), in which Saturday and Sunday are considered a unit that follows the work week and thus end it. In most parts of the world, including most of the Spanish speaking world, calendars show Sunday, not Saturday, as the last day of the week, grouping the two weekend days together.

Eng. sabbatical ~ Sp. sabático


The word sábado is related to a word that refers to a pair of cognate words: Eng. sabbatical and Sp. sabático. These words refer to ‘a period when someone, especially someone in a university job, stops doing their usual work in order to study or travel’ (DOCE).  It is a period of rest from teaching that (mostly) academics enjoy. These words come from Late Latin adjective sabbaticus ‘of the Sabbath’, formed with the adjectival suffix ‑ic‑ (sabbat‑ic‑us) )‑ added to the Latin root sabbat‑. English even added a second adjectival suffix, the Latinate ‑al‑, to the word when it borrowed it in the 17th century. These words can still be used as adjectives, but nowadays they can be used also as nouns. Thus you can speak of a sabbatical year or just of a sabbatical, cf. Sp. (año) sabático.

Saturday in other Romance languages


There was another way to render the new day of the week in Latin besides sabbatum, namely as sabbatī diēs or diēs sabbatī ‘day of the Sabbath’ (sabbatī was the genitive case wordform of the word sabbatum). Romance languages that did not drop the diēs part of the Latin name of the day of the week like Spanish did, also retain it here.

Thus, in Catalan, Saturday is dissabte [di.ˈsap.tə], a contraction of Latin diēs sabbatī. In French, Saturday is Samedi [sam.ˈdi], from an earlier sambedi, from Vulgar Latin *sambati dies ‘day of the Sabbath’. (This sambati was a variant of sabbatī). The Standard Italian word for Saturday is sabato /ˈsa.ba.to/, from the same source as Spanish sábado, namely Church Latin nominative (and accusative) sabbatum.

Saturn


The name that sabbatum replaced was diēs Saturnī ‘day of Saturn’. Saturn was a very important and complex god in the Roman pantheon. It was originally the god of agriculture. However, in classical times the Romans equated this god with the Greek’s god Κρόνος (krónos), the Titan of the Harvest, a name Latinized as Cronus, and by this association, it acquired additional chracteristics, which show up in Roman literature and art. For instance, Cronus was sometimes associated with the word Xρόνος (chronos) ‘time’, though the words are not related, and so is Saturn.

 Not surprisingly, the name of the equivalent day of the week in Greek was ἡμέρᾱ Κρόνου (hēmérā Krónou) ‘day of Chronos’.[1] The Romans named the last day of the week and the sixth planet from the sun (the outermost of the planets that are visible with the naked eye) after this god. A week-long festival in the honor of the god was held in the middle of December known as Saturnalia. It was ‘a time of general unrestrained merrymaking, extending even to the slaves’ (OED).[2]

[GO TO PART 8]




[1] in Greek mythology, Cronos was the father of Zeus (the Roman Jupiter) and was deposed by him. Cronus had himself usurped his father Uranus’s position as ruler of the universe by cutting off his testicles. During the Renaissance, ancient Greek myths were back in vogue and the association came back between Cronos and Chronos, resulting in the figure of Father Time , a personification of time ‘as a very old man carrying a scythe and an hourglass’ (RHWC).

[2] The Saturnalia was ‘a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry’ (WP). The noun Sātŭrnālĭa is derived from an identical plural adjective wordform (sing. Saturn-āl-is) that meant ‘of Saturn’. It was derived from the noun saturnus (saturn-us) and the adjectival suffix ‑āl‑, which created third declension adjectives, whose nominative and genitive singular masculine and feminine inflectional ending is ‑is. The etymology of the word Saturn is not known, but it does not seem to be an Indo-European word. More likely it is Etruscan, cf. the Etruscan god Satre. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The names of the days of the week, Part 6: Sp. viernes and related words

[This entry comes from a section of Chapter 20 ("The names of the days of the week") of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

The source of Sp. viernes


Sp. viernes ‘Friday’ comes from Latin vĕnĕrĭs ‘of Venus’ or, actually, from the Latin phrase diēs vĕnĕrĭs ‘day of Venus’ by the dropping of the first word, as in the case of the other names of the days of the week that we have seen. The word vĕnĕrĭs was the genitive case wordform of the noun and name vĕnus.

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In the Roman pantheon of gods, Venus was the goddess of sexual love, sexual desire, beauty, fertility and fecundity, as well as prosperity and victory. The name of the goddess comes from the Latin noun vĕnus that means ‘sexual love’ and ‘sexual desire’, but also ‘loveliness, attractiveness, beauty, grace, elegance, charm’. Both the noun and the name were written VENUS in Latin, pronounced [ˈwɛ.nʊs]. The Romans adopted many of the symbols and iconography for this goddess from those of its Greek counterpart, Αφροδίτη (Afrodíti), which are rendered as Aphrodite in English and Afrodita in Spanish.

The second planet from our Sun, and the closest planet to Earth, was named after this goddess by the ancient Romans and that name has been passed on to the many modern languages, cf. Eng. Venus /ˈvi.nəs/ ~ Sp. Venus /ˈbe.nus/. The planet Venus was known to many ancient cultures by two names, for they thought the planet as it appears in the morning was a different entity from the one as it appears at night. In English, these two names are typically rendered as the morning star (Sp. lucero del alba, lucero de la mañana) and the evening star (Sp. lucero vespertino, lucero de la tarde).[1]

The nominative case of the word vĕnus was irregular, for the regular stem for this word was vĕnĕr‑, which is what we find in all of this noun’s case wordforms except in the nominative and vocative singular, which were reduced to vĕnus. However, at one point the nominative case was the regular vĕnĕrus (vĕnĕr‑us), as evidenced in early Latin inscriptions. The root at the core of this word is vĕn‑, from the Proto-Indo-European verbal root *wenh₁‑ (or u̯en‑, u̯enə‑), meaning ‘to strive’,  ‘to wish’, and ‘to love’. The additional letters ‑er‑ between the root and the inflectional ending presumably come from some kind of a suffix in early Latin or earlier.

The word vĕnĕrĭs was pronounced with stress on the first ĕ, the antepenultimate syllable, since the penultimate syllable is light (it has a short vowel and does not end in a consonant), following the standard pattern of stress in Classical Latin. Also remember that the initial v was pronounced as a [w]. The word was thus pronounced [ˈwɛ.nɛ.ɾɪs] in Latin.

The derivation of the word viernes from Lat. vĕnĕrĭs has some interesting twists. Two of the changes are quite unremarkable, namely the initial stressed ĕ becoming ie and the final ĭ becoming e. Both of these changes are expected. They are, for instance, the same regular changes that we saw for the word miércoles (cf. Part I, Chapter 10, §10.3). The more unusual sound changes are the following:

  • the loss of the medial vowel ĕ
  • the reversal of order (metathesis) of the n and the r

Actually, the loss of the medial vowel ĕ is not unusual at all, for Latin words that had three syllables and initial stress typically lost the medial vowel, also known as an intertonic vowel, by the time they got to Old Spanish, e.g. Lat. asĭnus >  Sp. asno ‘donkey’ and Lat. regula > Sp. (semi-learned) regla (and patrimonial reja). Since Latin vĕnĕrĭs was stressed in the first ĕ, the second ĕ was an intertonic vowel and, as such, it was pronounced less strongly and eventually disappeared in the evolution of Latin.

When the middle ĕ disappeared, it resulted in a word, *vienres, that contained a consonant cluster, ‑nr‑, that was uncommon and, presumably, difficult to pronounce (Old Spanish clusters that result from vowel loss are known as secondary consonant clusters, Sp. grupos consonánticos secundarios, cf. Part I, Chapter 10, §10.4.7). Old Spanish solved the problem by inverting the order of n and r, giving us viernes instead of *vienres, which seems to have made the word easier to pronounce.

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When such an ‑nr‑ cluster was created in Old Spanish by the loss of an intervening vowel, sometimes the solution was to add a ‑d‑ in between the two consonants, rather than inverting them. That is the solution we find in irregular future tense verb forms such as vendrás, from *venirás (< venir has). Interestingly, that solution is what we find in the French and Catalan versions of the word for ‘Friday’. The name for Friday in Catalan is divendres, from Lat. dĭĕs vĕnĕrĭs. And from the same phrase in reverse order, vĕnĕrĭs dĭĕs, French gets vendredi. The word in Standard Italian follows the same pattern as the French one since it is venerdì. Galician gets the name for ‘Friday’ from just vĕnĕrĭs, like Spanish does, but without the diphthonguization of the ĕ or the reversal of n and r: venres. (In Portuguese, which as we saw does not follow this pattern, the word for Friday is sexta-feira.)

Words derived from vener-


There aren’t many words derived from the name of the Latin name Venus or the Latin noun venus in English or Spanish. There is one, however, that everyone is familiar with. I am referring to the semi-cognate adjectives Eng. venereal and Sp. venéreo/a. Their meaning is ‘related to sexual intercourse or the genitals’, and it is used primarily in the phrases Eng. venereal disease (often abbreviated as VD) and Sp. enfermedad venérea.

These are loanwords from the Latin adjective vĕnĕrĕus or vĕnĕrĭus that meant ‘of or belonging to sexual love’ or ‘of or belonging to Venus’. This adjective was formed with the stem vĕnĕr‑ we just discussed and the suffix ‑ĕ‑ that formed first/second declension adjectives, resulting in the masculine ‑ĕus and feminine ‑ĕa endings. When English borrowed this word in the early 15th century, it added the derivational Latinate adjectival suffix ‑al to this adjective, resulting in Eng. venereal, whereas Spanish just adapted the inflectional ending ‑us/‑a to their Spanish equivalent forms: ‑o/‑a, giving us venéreo/a. It is because of this additional derivational ‑al suffix in the English word that we say the two words are semi-cognates, not true cognates. Actually, this is just a technicality, for the original Latin sourceword is the same one in both cases, namely Lat. vĕnĕrĕus. The only difference is that English added the suffix ‑al to the Latin word to make it look more like an adjective.

From the same stem vĕnĕr‑, Medieval Latin created the word vĕnĕrĭa for ‘sexual intercourse’. This word was borrowed into English in the mid-15th century as venery /ˈvɛn.ə.ɹi/, with the meaning ‘the pursuit of or indulgence in sexual pleasure’ (MWC). That word is now considered archaic by some dictionaries, though not all. It is definitely not a common word, however.

The Latin stem vĕnĕr‑ is also found in Latin verb vĕnĕrārī (later also vĕnĕrāre) ‘to worship, adore, revere, venerate, worship, etc.’. This verb has given us the learned cognates Eng. venerate /ˈvɛn.əɹ.eɪ̯t/ and Sp. venerar /be.ne.ˈɾaɾ/, meaning ‘to regard with respect, reverence, or heartfelt deference’ (AHD). Sp. venerar is first attested in the 15th century and in English in the 17th century.

The derived nouns Eng. veneration and Sp. veneración are first attested in English in the early 15th century. They come from Lat. vĕnĕrātĭo, meaning ‘the act of venerating’ and ‘the highest respect, reverence, veneration’. This Latin noun is derived from the passive participle stem vĕnĕrāt‑ of the verb and the noun suffix ‑iōn‑ (vĕn‑ĕr‑ā‑t‑ĭ‑ōn‑).

Another pair of cognates derived from the Latin verb vĕnĕrārī are Eng. venerable /ˈvɛn.əɹ.əb.əl/ and Sp. venerable /be.ne.ˈɾa.ble/. They come from Lat. vĕnĕrābĭlis ‘worthy of respect or reverence, reverend, venerable’, formed with the adjectival suffix ‑bĭl‑ (vĕn‑ĕr‑ā‑bĭl‑is).

Other words derived from the root wen-


As we mentioned earlier, the Latin root vĕn‑ is at the root of the stem vĕnĕr‑, a root that goes back to a reconstructed Proto-Indo-European verbal root *wenh₁‑ (or u̯en‑, u̯enə‑), meaning ‘to strive’,  ‘to wish, desire’, and, from that, ‘to love’. There are other Latin words that contain this root, some of which have made it into English and Spanish.

The Latin root vĕn‑ should not be confused, however, with the root vēn‑ (with a long ē‑), as in the Latin noun vēnus ‘sale, purchase’, which is found in words like Eng. venal ~ Sp. venal ‘showing or motivated by susceptibility to bribery’ (COED), as well as in the very common Spanish verb vender ‘to sell’, from Lat. vēndĕre ‘to sell’, derived from the phrase vēnum dāre ‘to give for sale’ (cf. Eng. to vend; cf. Lat. vēnīre ‘to be sold’).

Lat. vĕnĭa is a noun derived from the root vĕn‑. Besides the root vĕn, it contains the remnant of an ancient derivational suffix ĭ‑ (vĕn‑ĭ‑a; cf. Proto-Indo-European *wn̥h₁-yeh₂‑). This word meant ‘indulgence, kindness, favor, permission, forgiveness’. Spanish borrowed it as venia /ˈbe.ni̯a/, with pretty much the same meaning. Although it is attested as early as the 13th century, it remains a fancy word, certainly not a common one. It is used for instance in courts of law, in expressions such as con la venia de la sala ‘with the permission of the court’. In parts of South America is used with the sense of ‘head bow’.

English has not borrowed Lat. vĕnĭa, but both English and Spanish have borrowed an adjective derived from it, namely Late Lat. vĕnĭālis, derived with the adjectival suffix ‑āl‑. This adjective meant ‘gracious’ or ‘pardonable, forgivable’ (vĕnĭ‑āl‑is). IT was borrowed as Eng. venial /ˈvi.nɪəl/ and Sp. venial /be.ˈni̯al/. In Christian theology, this adjective defined a kind of sin, Eng. venial sins and Sp. pecados veniales, that is less serious than mortal sins (Sp. pecados mortales).[2] The word venial is sometimes confused with the word venal but, as we saw, the two words are unrelated.

Spanish has another word that derives from a Latin word containing this root. It is a learned and literary word and it is quite rare. The word is the adjective venusto/a, meaning ‘beautiful’ (synonym of bello/a). It is safe to say that most Spanish speakers have never heard of it. It is a learned borrowing from Lat. venustus/a, with the same meaning, whose stem has been reconstructed as coming from Proto-Indo-European *wenh₁-os-to‑, with two derivational suffixes added to the root wĕn‑.

The cognates Eng. venom and Sp. veneno also come from a Latin word containing the same root. The word was vĕnēnum, meaning ‘potion, juice’ as well as ‘poison, venom’. This word has been reconstructed as coming from Proto-Indo-European stem *wenes‑no‑, meaning ‘lust, desire’.  English got this word from Old French venim, which came from Vulgar Latin *venimem, an alteration of the original Latin word vĕnēnum. Spanish, on the other hand, got the word as a loanword directly from Latin (first attested in the 13th century). From the noun venom, English has created the adjective venomous (earlier venomous). The Spanish equivalent is venenoso/a. Both words can be traced back to Latin vĕnēnōsus, formed from the noun by the first/second declension adjectival suffix ‑ōs‑ (vĕnēn‑ōs‑us). Another difference between Sp. veneno and Eng. venom is that Spanish has developed a verb from this noun using the en‑X-ar construction that turns nouns and adjectives into verbs (cf. Part I, Chapter 5, 5.6.2.1). The verb is envenenar and it means ‘to poison’.

The cognates Eng. venom and Sp. veneno are semi-false friends, since although they have the same source, their meanings overlap only partially. Sp. veneno means ‘deadly substance’ and can translate either Eng. poison or Eng. venom. Eng. venom means ‘poisonous fluid secreted by animals’ and does not apply to other poisonous fluids. In addition, venom has the figurative (non-literal), extended sense of ‘extreme malice and bitterness’ that its Spanish cognate lacks.

There is a pair of Latinate semi-cognates in Spanish that also derive ultimately from the root vĕn‑, namely Eng. venison and Sp. venado. Sp. venado means ‘stag, deer’, as well as ‘venison, deer meat’. Eng. venison means ‘deer meat’ (Sp. carne de venado), though originally it meant ‘the meat of any large, wild animal, and, in particular, deer or boar’. These nouns come from related Latin nouns derived from the Latin verb vēnārī ‘to hunt, pursue’, a verb derived from the root vĕn‑ (though note the long ē). As most Latin nouns derived from verbs, they are derived from the passive participle stem, in this case vēnāt‑ (from the passive participle vēnātus/a). In the case of Sp. venado, it comes directly from the converted, nominalized passive participle vēnātus, which as a participle, translates as ‘hunted’, but as a noun, as ‘hunt, hunting, chase’. Eventually, this word came to mean ‘hunted animal’ in the descendant languages. Eng. venison, on the other hand comes from Old French, with multiple possible spellings (Modern Fr. venaison), and ultimately from Lat. vēnātĭo (regular stem: vēnātĭōn-), derived from the same participle stem vēnāt‑ and the noun suffix ‑ĭōn‑, which also meant originally ‘chase, (the act of) hunting, chasing’.

Finally, we should mention that there are a few native, Germanic words in English that are derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root *wenh₁‑ ‘to desire, strive for’, the most common ones being win, wean, wish, and wont. These words have no Spanish cognates. Let us take a quick look at the first two.

The English verb to win comes from Old Eng. winnan ‘to labor, strive, struggle for’. As we can see, the original meaning of this verb in Old English remains quite unchanged from the original meaning of the root in Proto-Indo-European. Eng. win translates into Spanish as ganar, though this verb has the secondary sense ‘to earn’, which Eng. win lacks.

Eng. wean /ˈwin/ comes from O.Eng. węnian ‘to accustom’ and it means primarily ‘to gradually train an infant to eat regular food instead of suckling’, though it can also be used figuratively with the meaning ‘to make someone gradually stop doing something you disapprove of’ (DOCE). The literal meaning of wean translates into Spanish as destetar (< teta ‘teat’) and the figurative one as deshabituar or quitar la costumbre.

[GO TO PART 7]




[1] The Chinese referred to morning Venus as ‘the Great White’ (Tai-bai 太白) or ‘the Opener (Starter) of Brightness’ (Qi-ming 啟明) and to the evening Venus as ‘the Excellent West One’ (Chang-geng 長庚). The Ancient Greeks referred to morning Venus as Φωσφόρος (Phōsphoros; Latinized as Phosphorus), which literally meant ‘bringer of light’, or as ωσφόρος (Heōsphoros; Latinized as Heosphoros), which literally meant ‘bringer of dawn’. And the Greeks referred to evening Venus as σπερος (Hesperos; Latinized as Hesperus), meaning ‘evening’. The Romans calqued these Greek names as Lūcifer ‘bringer of light’ and Vesper ‘the evening, even, eve, even-tide’. Ever since the Hebrew Bible was translated into Latin, the name Lucifer has been associated with the devil or, more accurately, with ‘the archangel cast from heaven for leading the revolt of the angels’ (AHD), also known as Satan. That is because in the Latin version of the Bible (the Vulgate), lucifer (with a lower case) is used to translate ωσφόρος (heōsphoros) in the Greek version, which is used to translate the Hebrew word הֵילֵל (Hêlêl or Heylel), ‘shining one, light-bearer’, in Isaiah 14:12. Later in Christian tradition, the word Lucifer was used to refer to the devil as he was before the fall and thus it has become an alternative name for Satan (Sp. Satanás) or the Devil (el Diablo).

[2] In Thomist (Roman Catholic, from Thomas Aquinas) theology, a mortal sin is one ‘such as murder or blasphemy, that is so heinous it deprives the soul of sanctifying grace and causes damnation if unpardoned at the time of death’ (AHD). A venial sin, on the other hand, is ‘an offense that is judged to be minor or committed without deliberate intent and thus does not estrange the soul from the grace of God’ (AHD).

Friday, June 16, 2017

The names of the days of the week, Part 5: Sp. jueves and related words

[This entry comes from a section of Chapter 20 ("The names of the days of the week") of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

From Latin Iŏvĭs to Spanish jueves


The word jueves ‘Thursday’ comes from Latin Iŏvĭs ‘of Jupiter’, written 〈IOVIS〉 in Latin. More specifically, it comes from the phrase diēs Iŏvĭs ‘day of Jupiter’ from which the word diēs has been removed. The word Iŏvĭs may look rather different from the word jueves, if we look at the spelling, but even more so if we look at the sounds involved. However, the sound changes we find here are all the regular ones we expect to find in a patrimonial Spanish word, one that was transmitted by word of mouth uninterruptedly from Classical Latin, to Vulgar (popular) Latin, to Romance, to Old Spanish (Castilian), and to Modern Spanish. There are no sporadic or analogical sound changes here, as in the case of the word miércoles, only regular ones.

i
ŏ
v
ĭ
s

/ ˈjɔ.wɪs/
j
ue
v
e
s

/ˈxu̯e.bes/

Let us look at each of the letters in turn, starting with the initial i. We find that this is one of the rare cases in which this letter did not represent a full, syllabic vowel, but rather a consonant sound derived from that vowel sound, namely [j], the sound of the letter 〈y〉 in English when it is a consonant, as in you and yell. In some words, this vowel became a (semi-)consonant before another vowel in Latin. This semi-consonantal [j] sound changed to [ʒ] in Romance, and it is the sound it had in Old Spanish (it still has that sound in French, for instance). However, by the 17th century, this sound had mutated to the sound that the letter 〈j〉 currently has in Spanish, represented by the symbol [x] in the International Phonetic Alphabet. (In English, the letter 〈j〉 typically represents the sound [ʤ], as in jar or jello. In some dialects of Spanish, the letter 〈j〉 is pronounced [h] as in English hose. All this is explained in Part I, Chapter 7, in detail.)

The changes in the other vowels are even easier to explain. Latin short ŏ always became ue in Old Spanish patrimonial words if it was stressed, and short ĭ always changed to e, without exception. On the other hand, in non-patrimonial words, that is, words that were borrowed from written Latin at a later date, also known as learned words, Latin short ŏ is always o in Spanish and short ĭ also stays i.[1]

Finally, the letter 〈v〉 might not seem to require an explanation, since it remains unchanged, but we should not forget that its pronunciation in Spanish is very different from the pronunciation it had in Latin. The letter 〈v〉 in this context was pronounced [w] (that is, like the English letter 〈w〉). This sound changed to [β] in Old Spanish, a sound much like the [b] sound but without fully closing the lips. Eventually this sound became a variant of the [b] sound in Spanish. We represent the sound than combines both variants /b/ (cf. Part I, Chapter 7). In Old French, Latin 〈v〉, pronounced [w], came to be pronounced [v] (as in vain) and that is why we write this sound with the letter 〈v〉 in English as well.

The name for Thursday in other Romance languages (other than Portuguese, which is quinta-feira) is also derived from the same Latin phrase diēs Iŏvĭs, as for example in Catalan dijous, where as we can see, the word diēs is not lost and the two words are blended into one. The phrase diēs Iŏvĭs could also be expressed in reverse order in Latin, as Iŏvĭs dies, and this is the source of French jeudi. Other Romance languages follow one of these patterns. Standard Italian has giovedì, which follows the French pattern. Galician has xoves, which shows a loss of the word diēs, just like Spanish. In Sicilian too, we find the same thing, since the word for Thursday in this language is juvi.

Jupiter


You may have been surprised to learn that Lat. Iŏvĭs meant ‘of Jupiter’, for this word does not look very much like the word Jupiter. It turns out the nominative case wordform that meant ‘Jupiter’ in Latin, which was Iŭppĭtĕr, does not look very much like the genitive case wordform Iŏvĭs either. Let us look at this word in some detail, since its story is quite interesting.

Jupiter was the main god of the Romans, their Sky God, the father and ruler of gods and men. The name for Jupiter, the god and, thus, the planet, in Latin was Iŭppĭtĕr in the nominative case or wordform of this word, written 〈IVPPITER〉, pronounced [ˈjʊp.pɪ.tɛr]. (The nominative case of a noun is the form of the noun that is used when it functions as the subject of a sentence, for instance.) Originally, however, the word was Iūpiter, with a long ū and a single p. From this nominative case comes English Jupiter /ˈʤu.pɪ.təɹ/ and Spanish Jupiter /ˈxu.pi.t̪eɾ/, words that are used for both the Roman god and for the planet named after him.

So why is the genitive or possessive case wordform, the one meaning ‘of Jupiter’, so different from the nominative? Since Iŭppĭtĕr has more letters, one might think that it is Iŏvĭs that is odd, and that it has been shortened somehow. Actually, it is the other way around. It is not the genitive Iŏvis, but rather the nominative Iŭppĭtĕr, that is strange, since all the other cases for this word besides the nominative singular follow the same pattern as the genitive, with the root iŏv‑. We also know that the original name of this god in the nominative was at one time, early on, Iŏve. The expression ‘By Jove!’, though dated, is still found in most English dictionaries. It first appears in English in the 16th century and it is used ‘used to express surprise or to emphasize a statement’ (OALD).

The reason that Iove become Iuppiter is that the name of the god was so often uttered together with the word for father next to it, as in Iove Pater, meaning ‘Father Jove’ or ‘Sky Father’, that eventually the two words fused and gave us the new wordform Iuppiter as the nominative and vocative cases of this name. (The vocative case is the form of a noun ‘used in addressing or invoking a person or thing’ (COED).

i
ŏ
v
ĕ
p
a
t
e
r
i

v

p
i
t
e
r

As we can see, when these two words blended, two short vowels were lost. The letter 〈v〉, changed from representing the semivowel [w] sound to the vowel [u] sound, but that was to be expected, since in Latin this letter represented both sounds, which one depending on whether there was a vowel following. The other thing that might seem strange is that the vowel a in the word pater changed to i in the compound (Iup)piter. This type of sound change was not uncommon, however, in early Latin, for vowels mutated when they came to be unstressed in compounds (cf. Part I, Chapter 8, §8.3.3).

Interestingly, adding the word for father to the word for God is not limited to Latin among the Indo-European languages, so this is a very old and well-attested tradition. In the Umbrian language, which is a sister language of Latin, we find 𐌉𐌖𐌐𐌀𐌕𐌄𐌓 ‎(iupater); in Sanskrit, another daughter language of Proto-Indo-European, we find द्यौष्पितृ ‎(dyauṣ-pitṛ); and in Ancient Greek, we find Ζεῦ πάτερ ‎(Zeû páter).

Latin Iove, the early equivalent of the word Iuppiter, has given us a curious pair of cognates: English jovial and Spanish jovial, which mean ‘cheerful and friendly’ (COED). They come from Late Lat. ioviālis ‘pertaining or related to Jove/Jupiter’, an adjective derived with the adjectival suffix ‑āl‑ (iov‑i‑āl‑is). It seems that being born under the sign of the planet Jupiter brought upon people positive dispositions and friendly personalities. English jovial /’ʤoʊ̯.vɪə̯l/ came into English in the late 16th century from French, perhaps ultimately from Italian. Sp. jovial /xo.ˈbi̯al/ is first attested in the early 17th century (Lope de Vega).

Eng. Thursday


The name of the day Thursday /ˈθɜɹz.ˌden̯/ is also a calque of the Latin name for this day. It comes from Old English Þunresdæg (among other spellings). The Þunres in Þunresdæg is the genitive case wordform of Þunor, the name of the god of thunder. Since Jupiter was the god of sky and thunder (in addition to being, unlike Þunor, the king of the gods) in Roman mythology, the early Germanic people chose this god for the name of this day when they calqued the Latin names for the days of the week. The word þunor itself meant primarily ‘thunder, thunderclap’, but it was also the name of the deification of this natural phenomenon. The Anglo-Saxon god Þunor is equivalent to Thor in Norse (North Germanic) mythology, cf. Old Norse Þórr (Swedish Tor).

Eng. thunder is primarily a noun, though it is also used as a verb. It is not known how the word thunder, which comes from O.Eng. Þunor, got its intrusive ‑d‑ in later times, but a few other Germanic languages have it too in their cognates of this word. This word has been reconstructed as containing the Proto-Indo-European root *ton (variant of *(s)ten‑), meaning ‘to drone, groan, thunder, etc.’.

The root in the word thunder (thun‑) can also be found in the Latin verb tŏnāre ‘to thunder’ (tŏn‑). The descendant of this verb in Spanish is tronar, with an intrusive ‑r‑, which goes back to Roman times and perhaps comes by the influence of the ‑r‑ in the word tŏnītrus ‘thunderclap’. The Spanish noun meaning ‘thunder’, trueno, also contains this root, as does the word tronido ‘thunderclap’, derived from Lat. tŏnītrus by metathesis of the ‑r‑.


The Latin verb dētŏnāre was derived from tŏnāre was. It meant ‘to release thunder, to roar out’. This verb was borrowed in the 18th century by English as detonate. Actually, the noun detonation was borrowed first, in the 17th century. Spanish borrowed it too, as detonar, with the same meaning. It is likely that the word was borrowed from Latin first by French and then calqued into English and Spanish.

Excursus: the Proto-Indo-European root dyew‑


The Sky God of the Indo-Europeans

Just like Jupiter was the Sky God of the Romans, Zeus was the equivalent Sky God of the Helenes (Greeks). It turns out that Lat. Iŏve (Jupiter) and Gk. Ζεύς (Zeús) are cognate words and that the word for the Sky God goes all the way to their ancestor language Proto-Indo-European Sky God, which has been reconstructed as *dyḗws (gen. *diwés). This word has also given us the names of deities in other daughter languages, such as Sanskrit द्यु (dyú), Hittite 𒅆𒍑 (sius), and Old English Tīw (as in Tuesday which originally meant ‘Tiw’s day’). This word has an interesting story which well deserves an aside here.

The word for the Sky God in many Indo-European languages goes back to the PIE root *dyew- found in a noun meaning ‘sky, heavens’ and in a verb meaning ‘to shine’. Derived from this root is the word reconstructed as *dyḗws that has given the names of the Indo-European Sky God in many ancient languages.

Sp. día (and the unrelated Eng. day)

Another word that is derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root *dyew- and from the same Proto-Indo-European word *dyḗws is Lat. diēs ‘day’, which as we have seen was part of the name of the days of the week in Latin. The Latin reflex of this PIE word should have been *diūs, and indeed we find this word in two fossilized Latin phrases. But *diūs changed to diēs presumably by analogy with the accusative wordform for this word, diem, which had an e instead of a u. This fifth declension noun could be declined as a feminine noun when the day is personified as a goddess instead of a god, from which comes the version dia of this word in Latin. Because the plural of dies was also dies, the feminine form dia came to be used as the singular form of the word in Vulgar Latin and it is from this version of the noun that Spanish gets its word día ‘day’, which ends in ‑a but, curiously, is masculine.

Even more curiously, the English word day, though it looks similar to Sp. día, is not a cognate, for it does not descend from the same PIE root, but rather from *dʰegʷʰ-, meaning ‘to burn’ (cf. Old English dæġ and Proto-Germanic *dagaz). In other words, Eng. day and Sp. día are false cognates, to the extent that they look alike, since although they are not real cognates, since they do not have the same source. On the other hand, they are cognates in the sense used in the language classroom, since the two words do look alike and do have the same meaning (cf. Part I, Chapter 1, §1.3).

Sp. dios and diosa and Eng. diva ~ Sp. diva

The Spanish word dios ‘god’ (feminine diosa ‘goddess’) is related to PIE *dyḗws as well, since they share the same root. Sp. dios comes from Latin dĕus /’de.ʊs/ (dĕ-us), meaning ‘god, deity’, which comes from an earlier (Old Latin) deivos, which comes from PIE *deywós ‘sky-dweller, celestial one, god’, which also comes from the PIE root *dyew- ‘sky’ by the addition of a suffix (it is what is called an o-stem derivate from that root). English god is not related to this word, since it comes from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰutós ‘invoked (one)’, but English does have some words derived from this Latin root, as we shall see.

Actually, Classical Latin had two variants for the root meaning ‘god’, dĕ‑ and dīv‑, which were originally one. We may be dealing with two dialectal variants. As we saw, the Old Latin word was deivos ‘god’ in the nominative, singular, masculine wordform, with deiva ‘goddess’ being the feminine. The regular root was deiv‑. In Late Old Latin, this wordform changed to dēvos (root: dēv‑). But then the root dēv‑ changed in two different ways in circumstances that are not clear. In some contexts, perhaps before back vowels, dēv‑ changed to dē‑, losing the v, which resulted in the word dĕus ‘god’ we just saw, with a feminine dĕa. In a different context, dēv‑ changed to dīv‑, resulting in a word like dīva ‘goddess’, as well as other derived words.

Proto-Indo-European
deyw
os

Old Latin
deiv
os

Late Old Latin
dēv
os

Pre-Classical Latin
os


dīv
a


There was also an adjective derived from the root dīv‑ without a derivational suffix, which meant ‘of or belonging to a deity; divine, godlike’. Its masculine form was dīvus and its feminine one, diva, just like the noun that meant ‘goddess’ (the alternate forms dīus and dīa, without a v, are also attested). It seems that from that masculine dīvus a noun was eventually derived also meaning ‘god’ and which is thus a synonym of Lat. dēus.

As we said, Sp. dios is said to come from Lat. dĕus, not from Lat. dī(v)us. Presumably after having first been dieos, for remember Latin stressed ĕ always became ie in Old Spanish. This word is also unusual in that it comes from the nominative/vocative case of the Latin word, not the accusative, which was dĕum. The accusative and would have produced Sp. dio, which is attested in Old Spanish, but which was much less common and was eventually replaced with dios. This was, no doubt, because this word was used more frequently as a subject (nominative) and in exclamations (vocative).[2] In Old Spanish, the stress was on the i and the word had two syllables /ˈdi.os/. Eventually, the two vowels joined into a diphthong: /ˈdi̯os/.

As we saw, the feminine word for ‘goddess’ in Latin was dīva. Because in the Christian religion, which took over the Roman Empire in the fourth century, there were no goddesses, for the only god was conceived of as being masculine, this word was lost.  In the 19th century, this Latin word was borrowed by both English and Spanish, through Italian, to refer to ‘a famous female singer of operatic or popular music’ (COED). Another word for an operatic diva, especially in Spanish, is prima dona, an Italian phrase meaning literally ‘first lady’.

Other Latin words derived from the roots dĕ‑ and dīv

There are a few pairs of English-Spanish cognates that are derived from the Latin word for god. English deity and its Spanish cognate deidad are learned words that come from Latin deitātem (accusative form of deitās), a word derived from this same root and meaning originally ‘divine nature’. A closely related pair of words are Eng. divinity ~ Sp. divinidad. This noun was derived from the adjective divīnus ‘divine’ which has given us Eng. divine ~ Sp. divino/a.

div
īn
us

div
īn
itāt
em
de
itāt
em


Let us start by looking at the Latin adjective dīvīnus ‘divine, of a god’, feminine dīvīna, from which come the English adjective divine /dɪ.ˈvaɪ̯n/ and its Spanish cognate divino /d̪i.ˈbi.no/, fem. divina. These words have now acquired a second and more common sense as ‘excellent’ or ‘delightful’, but the original meaning of the word had more to do with god than goodness. Latin dīvīnus ‘divine; foreseeing’, is the Latin adjective derived from the root dīv‑ of dīvus, itself an adjective meaning ‘divine, of god’, and the derivational suffix ‑īn‑ used to form first and second declension adjectives (dīv‑īn‑us, dīv‑īn‑a).

Besides the adjective divine, English also has a (fancy) verb to divine, which means to ‘discover by guesswork or intuition’ or to ‘have supernatural or magical insight into (the future)’ (COED), and which is related to the second sense of Latin dīvīnus, namely ‘foreseeing’. From this adjective, a few other words were derived. First of all is the noun dīvīnus (no change), which meant ‘prophet, diviner, someone who can see the future’. From this word comes Sp. adivino ‘fortune-teller, seer, diviner’, which was earlier divino. From the adjective dīvīnus also comes the Latin verb dīvīnāre ‘to foresee, foretell, prophesy, guess’. From this verb comes the English verb to divine, from Middle French deviner, as well as the Spanish verb adivinar ‘to guess; to forecast, foretell; to divine’ (with the semantically vacuous prefix a- of Spanish parasynthetic verbs). Among the most common related collocations for this verb are adivinar el futuro ‘fortune telling’ and adivinar el pensamiento ‘mind reading’. A word derived from this verb in Spanish is and adivinanza ‘riddle, puzzle’.

The cognate nouns Eng. divinity ~ Sp. divinidad come from Lat. dīvīnĭtas (accusative: dīvīnĭtātem) is derived from the adjective dīvīnus (dīv‑īn‑ĭ‑tāt‑em). Lat. dīvīnĭtas meant ‘divine quality, divine nature, godhood’, but also ‘the power of divining, divination’ (see above). Eng. divinity entered the language in the early 14th century with the meaning ‘study of divine matters’, equivalent to theology.[3] That meaning translates into Spanish as teología only, not divinidad. Eng. divinity was a loanword from Old French, where divinité is already attested in the 12th century. By the end of the century, it could also mean ‘quality of being divine’ (e.g. the divinity of Jesus) as well as ‘divine being, god’. Sp. divinidad is already attested in the 13th century (Berceo) and it has the last two meanings we just saw for the Eng. divinity.

Perhaps because Lat. dīvīnitās had a secondary pagan sense related to fortune-telling, in the 5th century, Augustine of Hippo (Saint Augustine) coined the Latin deitas from the root dĕ‑ of dĕus ‘god’ (dĕ-ĭ-tat-em) as a calque of dīvīnitās which only had the sense ‘divine quality, divine nature’. This word has given us Eng. deity and Sp. deidad. Eng. deity /ˈdi.ɪ.ti/ or /ˈdeɪ̯.ɪ.ti/ can mean ‘divine status, quality, or nature’ (COED), but it can also be used to refer to particular divine beings (‘god or goddess (especially in a polytheistic religion’, COED). English borrowed this word in the early 14th century from Old French deité (Mod.Fr. déité) with the meaning ‘divine nature’ and by the end of the century it could also mean ‘a god’. Sp. deidad /d̪ei̯ˈd̪ad̪/ first appeared in writing in the late 15th century and it has the same two senses. Since Fr. déité is attested already in the 12th century, it is quite possible that Spanish got it through French as well.

Sp. adiós

The Spanish word adiós ‘goodbye’ is another word derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root, since it is derived from the word dios. In remains the primary formal word for leave-taking in Spanish, equivalent to Eng. goodbye, though in some countries it is now perhaps less common than chao, from Italian ciao ‘bye’. As we said, this word is related to the word dios ‘god’. The same is true of its cognates French adieu, Italian addio, Portuguese adeus, and Catalan adéu. The story of this word is also quite interesting.

The word adiós is a shortened version of the Old Spanish phrase a Dios seas or, in the plural, a Dios seades (should this expression still exist in modern Spanish, the plural would have become a Dios seáis). These phrases do not make much sense in modern Spanish. In the modern language, they would mean literally something like ‘may you be to God’. However, that is because seas and seades, which are now forms of the present subjunctive of ser ‘to be’, originally were forms of the Latin verb sedēre ‘to sit, settle, remain, stay, hang fast, hold on’ (from the Proto-Indo-European root *sed- and a historical cognate of English sit).

Early Romance had three copula verbs: sedēre ‘to sit, remain, stay, etc.’, esse ‘to be’, and stāre ‘to stand’. (A copula is ‘a type of verb, of which the most common is be, which joins the subject of the verb with a complement, [that is, a] word that describes the subject)’, CALD.) From stāre we get Spanish estar ‘to be (located or in a state)’, which has become more and more common in the last 1,000 years. The other two, esse and sedēre, merged into Spanish ser, which explains in part why this verb’s forms are so irregular, since some come from Latin esse and some from Latin sedēre.[4] Thus, the Old Spanish phrase a dios seas is equivalent to the Latin phrase ad deum sedeas, which meant ‘Stay next to God’.

By the way, just like etymologically the Spanish word adiós contains the root for the word for god in this language, dios, so too the English word goodbye contains the word god in English. The word goodbye is a contraction of a larger phrase God be with you, a phrase that got progressively shorter though time. The progression went something like this: God be wi’ you > God bwy yee > Godbwye > Godby. The god‑ part in the resulting word godby was changed at a later time to good‑ by analogy with other greetings which start with the morpheme good, such as good morning, good day, and good night.

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[1] This is one sure sign to distinguish patrimonial and learned words. Thus, for example, Lat. signa (plural of signum) has given us patrimonial Sp. seña, whereas Lat. signum (sing. of signa) has given us Sp. signo. Notice that the Latin short ĭ became e in the patrimonial word, but not in the learned one. We can also see a change in the consonants, since Lat. gn changed to Sp. ñ in patrimonial words, but not in learned ones.

[2] It seems that Old Spanish dios could also be used as a plural in addition to singular, as in los dios ‘the gods’, a form commonly attested in the 13th century. For this reason, Jews in Hispania called their god (Jehova) Dio, to emphasize that there was only one. Actually, this word was typically preceded by the article: el Dio. The analogical plural dioses ‘gods’ was created later, around the 15th century. The feminine diosa ‘goddess’ was also created in the 15th century by adding the feminine ending ‑a to dios (earlier forms deessa and diosesa are also attested).

[3] The word theology is of Greek origin. It contains the root the‑ (of θεός theos) ‘god’ which is not related to Lat. dĕ‑ (of dĕus ‘god’). Other words derived from this Greek root are Eng. atheist ≈ Sp ateo, Eng. polytheism ~ Sp. politeísmo.

[4] Sp. estar has expanded its range of uses in the last millennium and it is used in modern Spanish in contexts in which even a thousand years ago ser would have been used.

Intimate intimacy

[This entry is an excerpt from Chapter 53, "Intimate intimacy", of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: A...