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Latin had a verb derived from the noun vĭa, namely the first conjugation verb vĭāre ‘to travel, journey’ (vĭ+ā+re; principal parts: vĭō, vĭāre, vĭāvī, vĭātum). This verb has not been passed on to either Spanish or English, either as a patrimonial word (in the case of Spanish) or as a learned borrowing (in the case of either language). However, certain Latin words derived from the verb vĭāre have made it into these two languages, such as Sp. enviar ‘to send’, Sp. desviar ‘to deviate, deflect’ ~ Eng. deviate, and Sp. obviar ‘to obviate, remove’ ~ Eng. obviate. In addition, Spanish has derived a couple of verbs from the noun vía, namely aviar ‘to prepare; to supply, provide’ and extraviar ‘to get lost, go astray, lead astray’. We will look at all of these words in the following sections.
English and Spanish have cognate adjectives, both spelled viable, which might seem to be related to this verb, or at least to the noun vĭa, but are not. (Eng. viable is pronounced [ˈvaɪ̯.ə.bəl] and Sp. viable, [bi.ˈa.βle].) Their main meaning of these words today is ‘capable of working successfully; feasible’, as well as ‘capable of surviving or living successfully’, its original meaning (COED). These words are loanwords from French viable ‘capable of life’, first attested in the 16th century, which is a word derived from the noun vie ‘life’ (cognate of Sp. vida, both derived from Lat. vīta) by means of the suffix ‑able. English borrowed the word viable from French in the early 19th century and Spanish borrowed it some time after that (it doesn’t appear in the DRAE until 1936). French derived the negative version of this word, inviable, in the early 20th century, and this word was soon after borrowed by both English and Spanish, though it is much more common in Spanish. Sp. inviable is best translated into English as unfeasible, with non-viable and unviable being less common options.
Curiously, the Academy’s dictionary, the DLE, claims that Spanish has a second adjective viable in Spanish that is indeed related to the noun vía and means something like ‘transitable, passable’ (Sp. transitable). According to the DLE, this adjective also comes from French and presumably descends from a Vulgar Latin viabĭlis, which is derived from the Latin word vĭa and which is thus not related to the other adjective (vi‑a‑bĭl‑is). No French dictionary seems to confirm the existence of such a word in French, however. Some Spanish dictionaries, such as María Moliner’s, do not mention this second adjective viable, and others, such as Larousse, lump the two as one word and give the meaning ‘transitable, passable’ as one of the meanings of this single polysemous word, a sense synonymous with Sp. transitable. (The other meaning is ‘capable of living’, of course.)
Sp. enviar [em.ˈbi̯aɾ] ‘to send’ (also ‘to dispatch’, ‘to ship’). It is a patrimonial verb, written embiar in Old Spanish. It comes from Late Latin invĭāre, which is derived from the verb vĭāre ‘to travel’ by prefixation, with the prefix in‑ ‘in’. Originally, this Latin verb had the intransitive meaning ‘to go along a path’, and from there developed a transitive one, namely ‘to send someone (along a path)’. Thus, Sp. enviar is synonymous with one of the meanings of the verb mandar ‘to send; to order’ (the other main meaning of mandar is ‘to order’).
French also has a patrimonial cognate of this verb, namely envoyer ‘to send’, pronounced [ɑ̃.vwa.ˈje] in Modern French. From the (masculine form of the) past participle of this verb, namely Fr. envoyé, comes Eng. envoy [ˈɛn.vɔɪ̯], a 17th century loanword (the French word is equivalent to Sp. enviado, past participle of the verb enviar). The meaning of Eng. envoy is ‘a messenger or representative, especially one on a diplomatic mission’ (COED). This word may be translated into Spanish as enviado/a, as in enviado/a especial ‘special envoy’, but also as embajador especial or emisario. This use of the past participle of enviar is clearly a semantic calque of the of the cognate French word.
Spanish has derived the noun envío from the verb enviar, which means something like ‘thing that is sent’ and thus can be translated into English by words such as dispatch, shipment, and consignment. This noun is found in collocations such as hacer un envío ‘to dispatch an order’ and gastos de envío ‘shipping and handling costs’.