Thursday, August 23, 2018

Family Relations, Part 2a: Words for Spouses: Husband

[This entry comes from Chapter 7, "Words for family relations", of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

Words for 'husband'

Let us start with the word husband [ˈhʌz.bənd]. Old English used the word wer for the meaning ‘man, male person’ and well as for ‘husband, married man’. Towards the end of the 13th century, this word came to be replaced by (1) man, which until then meant ‘human being’, for the first meaning and by (2) husband for the second.

The word wer is obsolete in modern English, except in the compound werewolf, which meant ‘man-wolf’, a person who could turn into a wolf (Sp. hombre lobo). Old English wer was a patrimonial cognate of Latin vĭr, pronounced [ˈwir], which meant ‘a male person, adult male, man’. This word has not survived into Spanish, either by patrimonial descent or through borrowing. However, three Latin words derived from the root vĭr, have been borrowed by both English and Spanish.

The main derivates of Latin vĭr are the cognate adjectives Eng. virile [ˈvɜɹ.əɫ] ~ Sp. viril [bi.ˈɾil] and the derived cognate nouns Eng. virility ~ Sp. virilidad. The former come from the Lat. adjective virīlis (vir+īl+is), formed with the derivational suffix ‑īl‑ that derived adjectives from nouns. From that adjective, Latin formed the abstract noun virīlitās ‘manhood, virility’, from whose accusative form virīlitāte(m) come the second pair of derived words (vir+īl+itāt+em). The last pair of cognates that contain the Latin root vĭr is Eng. triumvir ~ Sp. triumviro, both meaning ‘one of three men sharing public administration or civil authority in ancient Rome’ (AHD) or, in other words, a member of a Eng. triumvirate ~ Sp. triumvirato.[1]

As we just saw, the word husband came to replace the ‘husband’ sense of the noun wer. The word husbonda is already found in the Old English period, with the meaning ‘male head of a household’ and ‘manager, steward’. The word seems to have come from Old Norse húsbóndi, with the same meaning. The word is a compound formed by the nouns hús ‘house’ (Old Eng. hús [ˈhus] is the source of Modern Eng. house [ˈhaʊ̯s]) and bóndi ‘peasant who owns his own house and land’, ‘dweller, freeholder’, or ‘occupier and tiller of the soil’. This last word comes from Old Eng. buandi, which was the present participle of the verb bua which meant ‘to dwell, have a household’ and ‘to till, cultivate’.

The word for ‘husband’ in Modern Spanish is marido, a patrimonial word that comes from Lat. mărītus (accusative: mărītum, feminine nominative: mărīta, stem: mărīt‑). This word was first of all an adjective, meaning ‘of marriage, matrimonial, conjugal, nuptial’, as in the phrase fides mărīta ‘conjugal/marital fidelity’, but it came to be used as a noun as well, with the meaning ‘husband, married man’. The word mărītus was derived from the Latin noun mās ‘a male, man’ (accusative: mărem, regular root: măr‑), though the derivation is unclear. Other Romance languages have also kept this word for husband through patrimonial descent, e.g. Fr. mari, Port. marido, It. marito. The Latin adjective marītus had a feminine form marīta, and this form also became a noun, meaning  ‘married woman’, a synonym of Lat. uxor (see below). Spanish, however, has not kept this word and so there is no word *marida in Spanish.

Although Lat. mărītus was first of all an adjective, perhaps because it had come to be used as a noun as well, Latin derived a synonymous adjective from it by means of the adjectival suffix ‑āl‑, namely Lat. marītālis: marīt‑(us) + ‑āl‑ > marīt‑āl‑(is) (-us and -is are inflexional endings, whereas ‑āl is a derivational suffix, cf. Part I, Chapter 5 and Chapter 8). English borrowed the word marital that descends from this Latin word in the early 17th century. It was borrowed through French, where it was a learned (non-patrimonial) loanword. Eng. marital means ‘relating to marriage or the relations between husband and wife’ (COED), as in marital dispute ‘dispute between husband and wife’. Synonyms of this adjective are matrimonial and conjugal, which are two other fancy Latinate words in English.

Out of the same stem mărīt‑, Latin also developed the verb mărītāre (mărīt‑ā‑re), which meant ‘to marry, wed’, as well as other related things. This verb mutated in Old French into marier, meaning ‘to get married’ as well as ‘to marry off’ and from there it was passed on to English around the year 1300 as marry first with the meaning ‘to marry off, to give offspring in marriage’ and soon thereafter also with the meanings ‘to get married’ and ‘to take in marriage’.

Old French had a noun mariage which was derived (in French) from the verb marier and the noun suffix ‑age (cf. Part II, Chapter 16). English borrowed this noun as marriage around the same time as it borrowed the verb to marry. Eng. marriage can also be used as a modifier, as in the phrase marriage certificate (Sp. certificado de matrimonio), and thus it can be a synonym of the fancier adjectives we just saw, marital, matrimonial and conjugal, although each of these words has its own specific domain of use and collocations it is found in, e.g. matrimonial home (Sp. casa matrimonial) and conjugal visit (Sp. visita conyugal) (cf. Part I, Chapter 4). The past participle of the verb marry can also be used as an adjective meaning ‘related to married’, as in the phrase married life (Sp. vida matrimonial).

Lat. mărītāre (the source of Eng. marry) eventually became maridar in Old Spanish, sometimes extended as enmaridar with the prefix en‑, with the meaning ‘to get married or to join in matrimony’ (DLE).[2] However, these words are archaic if not obsolete in Modern Spanish for most people, though curiously, dictionaries do not say that these words are archaic or obsolete. This verb has been pretty much replaced in Spanish by the verb casar and its reflexive form casarse ‘to get married’, which are derived from the noun casa ‘house, home’. These verbs originally both meant to ‘set up a separate home’. Originally, both casar and casarse were intransitive verbs which meant ‘to get married’.  Eventually, casar came to be transitive, following the pattern of many other pairs of verbs in which the reflexive verb is the transitive version of the basic verb, e.g. romper ‘to break’ vs. romperse ‘to break’. Thus, casar came to mean ‘to marry off’ and ‘to join (people) in marriage’ (something that priests did) while the intransitive sense ‘to get married’ was expressed by the reflexive/reciprocal form casarse. Note that the intransitive, reflexive sense must be accompanied by the preposition con, as in Me casé con María ‘I married María’. The reciprocal sense is equivalent to ‘to get married’, as in María y yo nos casamos ‘María and I got married’. The adjective casado/a, derived from the identical past participle of that verb, means ‘married’, as in Estoy casado ‘I am married’. A nominalized version of this adjective can be found in expressions such as vida de casado ‘married life’ (somewhat equivalent to vida matrimonial) and dos años de casado ‘married for two years’.

We saw that English has a noun marriage derived from the verb to marry, both borrowed from French some 700 years ago, with the former having been derived from the latter. Spanish also has nouns to express the noun marriage. One of them is derived from the verb casar(se), namely casamiento, derived with the suffix ‑miento that is one of the suffixes used to derive nouns from verbs which comes from Late Latin ‑mentum (cf. Part I, Chapter 5). However, the noun casamiento refers primarily to the wedding ceremony and not to the rest of married life. For that, the most common word in Spansih is matrimonio ‘marriage, matrimony’, with its adjectival form matrimonial.

English has cognates of both of these words, matrimony and matrimonial, though they are both much rarer in English than their counterpart cognates are in Spanish, since synonyms of these words are more commonly used. Both of these nouns and adjectives come from Latin, of course. The nouns Sp. matrimonio and Eng. matrimony comes from Lat. mātrimōnium ‘wedlock, marriage’, which is derived from the word māter ‘mother’ (regular stem matr‑) and the suffix mōni‑um, which meant something like ‘obligation’ (other words with this suffix are pātrimōnium ‘inheritance’ and testimōnium ‘evidence’, cf. Part II, Chapter 19). Late Latin derived an adjective from this noun, namely matrimonialis, by means of the adjectival suffix ‑al‑ that we just saw. This adjective is, of course, the source of the cognates Sp. matrimonial and Eng. matrimonial.


[1] The source of these words is Lat. triumvir, which was usually used in the plural triumvirī (also trēsvirī), which is a back-formation of trium virōrum, genitive pl. of trēs virī ‘three men’ (OED).
[2] In Spanish, ‘casarse o unirse en matrimonio’

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