Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Latin root LAC-, part 4: Verbs derived from the root -laqu-/-lac- (iii)

[This entry is an excerpt from Chapter 46, "Delicado and delgado: The Latin root -LAC-", of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]


Lat. dēlĭcĕre

The Latin verb dēlĭcĕre was derived from the verb lăcĕre by the addition of the prefix dē‑ ‘from, away from, etc.’ (dē‑lĭc‑ĕre). It was a rare verb, with no perfect or supine forms that we know of, so its principal parts were dēlicĭō, dēlicĕre, -, -. Its meanings were ‘to entice away, allure from the right way’ and ‘delight’. Surprisingly, however, this verb has left us more descendants in Spanish and English than any of its sisters, including some cognates. The descendants we are referring do not come from the Latin verb itself, however, but rather from Latin words derived from this verb.

From the verbal stem dēlĭc‑, Latin derived a number of words. One was the masculine noun dēlĭcĭus, formed with the derivational suffix ‑ĭ‑ that meant ‘pleasure, delight, fun, activity affording enjoyment’ as well as ‘curiosities of art’, lit. ‘something enticing, alluring’ (dē‑lĭc‑ĭ‑us). This noun is found in a single Roman inscription. There was also a feminine version, dēlĭcĭa, with seemingly several meanings: ‘pleasure/delight/fun’, ‘activity affording enjoyment’, ‘luxuries’, ‘ornaments, decorations’, ‘toys’, ‘erotic verse’ and, perhaps more generally, ‘object of affection’. This feminine noun was typically used in the plural, whose nominative form was dēlĭcĭae, but with the singular meanings ‘delight, pleasure’, and it was also used as a term of endearment that we could translated as darling or sweetheart. Note that there was another word dēlĭcĭa or dēlĭquĭa in Latin that meant ‘corner-beam supporting an edifice’ and ‘gutter’, but this seems to have come from the first conjugation verb dēlĭcāre or deliquāre, unrelated to the words we just saw.

The noun dēlĭcĭa was borrowed into Spanish in the early 15th century as delicia with the meaning ‘delight, pleasure, treat’. The noun delicia seems to have replaced in part the traditional noun deleite ‘delight’, which is related to the noun delicia and is a cognate of Eng. delight, as we will see in the next section. Actually, Sp. delicia can be said to have two senses since it can refer to a feeling and to something that causes that feeling. The senses can be paraphrased as: ‘vivid and intense sensation of pleasure’ and ‘thing that causes a vivid and intense sensation of pleasure’. The first sense is often found in the expression ¡Qué delicia (…)! ‘What a delight (…)’, as in ¡Qué delicia estar aquí sentados! ‘How nice it is sitting here!’. The second sense of this noun is often equivalent to the derived English adjective delightful, e.g. Ese niño es una delicia ‘That boy is delightful’ or El circo es la delicia de los chiquillos ‘The circus is delightful to children’ (MM). There is even a common tag with this word that can be added to any statement, namely …que es una delicia, as in Canta que es una delicia ‘She sings delightfully’.

By adding the adjective-forming suffix -ōs‑ (masc. -ōsus, fem. -ōsa) to this noun, Late Latin derived the adjective dēlicĭōsus ‘delicious, delicate’, fem. dēlicĭōsa (dē‑lic‑ĭ‑ōs‑us/a). The original literal meaning was probably ‘enticing, alluring’. This adjective has given us the learned but today very common cognates Eng. delicious [də.ˈlɪ.ʃəs] and Sp. delicioso/a [d̪ˈθi̯]. English

Spanish delicioso/a is first attested in writing in the first half of the 13th century, two centuries before the noun delicia. English delicious [də.ˈlɪ.ʃəs]] entered the language around 1300 from French delicieus (Mod.Fr. délicieux [ˈsjø], fem. délicieuse [ˈsjøz]), which is attested in the early 12th century and is a loanword from Latin. This suggests that Spanish also probably borrowed this Latin word through French as well. The spelling of the English word already contained the ‑ous spelling from the very beginning, just like other English borrowings of Latin adjectives with the suffix ‑ōs‑(us/a) (and many that didn’t, as we have already seen).

The cognates Eng. delicious ~ Sp. delicioso/a are quite good friends, that is, they have very similar primary meanings, namely ‘highly pleasant to the taste’ (COED), which was not the original meaning of the Latin source-word. Both of these cognates can also be used figuratively, mostly in literature, with the meaning ‘delightful’, as in a delicious revenge or a delicious irony in English. In Spanish, one also often hears things such as El agua está deliciosa ‘The water is delightful’. Do note that Spanish has other very common expressions to express the meaning ‘delicious’ referring to things that taste very well, such as sabroso and riquísimo/a (superlative of rico/a). The adjective divino/a is often used for the non-taste related sense, equivalent to Eng. delightful. The use of the word delicious for the apple variety in American English dates from 1903. There is a colloquial shortening of this word, namely delish, which dates to 1920.

Lat. dēlectāre

As we mentioned earlier, there was a Latin verb dēlectāre that meant ‘to allure, attract, delight, charm, please’. This word seems to have been derived from lactāre (see above) by addition of the prefix , ‘from, away from, etc.’ and not from dēlĭcĕre. Lat. dēlectāre looks like it could have been a frequentative verb, but it cannot be a frequentative form of dēlĭcĕre, for it would have to come from the stem of a passive participle *delectus but there is no such word related to the words we are looking at. There was a passive participle dēlectus in Latin, but it was the participle of the verb dēlĭgĕre ‘to pick off; select, choose’ and thus meant ‘picked off, selected, chosen’ and was unrelated to dēlectāre or any of the verbs we’re analyzing here. There is always the possibility, of course, that there had been some contamination between dēlĭcĕre and dēlĭgĕre due to sound and meaning similarities.

The principal parts of Lat. dēlectāre were dēlectō, dēlectāre, dēlectāvī, dēlectātum. This verb has given us a semi-learned word in Spanish, namely the verb deleitar ‘to delight, please, enchant’, a verb often used reflexively as deleitarse, which renders it intransitive, which translates as ‘enjoy a great deal, to take delight in’, e.g. La música nos deleitó ‘The music delighted us’, Nos deleitamos con música de Bach ‘We delighted in listening to Bach’.

Sp. deleitar is attested in writings of the 13th century already. Actually, Spanish also has a learned version of this verb, namely delectar, which restores the post-vocalic (syllable-final) ‑c‑ that many Romance languages converted to the semivowel ‑i‑. This is not a different verb and if you look for delectar in a Spanish dictionary, you won’t find it in most of them, but at least one of the major ones, María Moliner, has it as an entry, and it sends you to deleitar to look for its meaning.

The sound change from Latin ‑ct‑ to ‑it‑ was one of the early sound changes found in many Romance languages and thus is very old. In Spanish patrimonial words, however, the ‑it‑ then additionally changed to ‑ch‑ [ʧ], which is not what we find here. If this was a purely patrimonial verb, one that descended orally from Vulgar Latin to Old Spanish, we would have expected it to be delechar instead of deleitar. In other words, Sp. deleitar seems to be a Latin borrowing which came in early enough to have undergone some sound adaptations to the phonology of Spanish, but not the full range of sound changes expected in patrimonial words. So either it is a semi-learned word or else it came from another Romance language, such as Occitan or Portuguese, that underwent the ­‑ct‑ to ‑it‑ change but not the ‑it‑ to ‑ch‑ change. Corominas believes this is a semi-learned word, but others argue that it is a loanword, probably from Occitan. Some have argued that the ultimate source of Sp. deleite is Lat. delectum, but the only such Latin word is related to the verb dēlĭgĕre, not to the verbs dēlĭcĕre or dēlectāre. Besides, if that was the source, the noun would have been *deleito or *delecho, not deleite, with a final e. But do note that the Italian equivalent of Sp. deleite is diletto, with an ‑o, which suggests it comes from a Latin word ending in ‑um, which could have developed in Late or Vulgal Latin of which we have no record.[1]

In addition to the verb deleitar, Spanish has a noun deleite ‘delight, pleasure (to any of the senses), delectation’, as in Tocó el piano para nuestro deleite ‘She played the piano to our delight’. This noun is already found in 13th century writings in the form deleit (Berceo).[2] It came to replace a related word deliçio which was used four times in the poem of the Cid, for instance, and which came from Lat. delicium, a variant of delicia and deliciae. Old Spanish delicio is now fully obsolete.

Sp. deleite typically translates into English as delight. The two words are most likely cognates, that is, come the same exact source word. We don’t know for sure because it is not clear whether Sp. deleite was derived in Spanish from the verb deleitar by conversion, or whether it was borrowed from another language, such as Provençal deliet. It does not seem, however, that the nouns deleite and delight descend from a common Latin noun related to the verb dēlectāre, however, since the only Latin nouns derived from this verb are dēlectātiō ‘delight, pleasure, amusement’ and dēlectāmentum ‘amusement, pastime’. These two nouns cannot be the source of Sp. deleite, but one of them is interesting to us since it resulted in words in English and Spanish.

Lat. dēlectāmentum, formed with the suffix ‑mentum that indicated ‘instrument, medium, or result’, has not made it into English or Spanish but Lat. dēlectātĭō has. This word is formed with the suffix ‑ĭōn‑ attached to the passive participle stem dēlectāt‑ (accusative: dēlectātĭōnem). Both English and Spanish have borrowed this word, which is very fancy and formal in both languages. One dictionary tells us that Eng. delectation, which means ‘pleasure and delight’, was borrowed in the mid-14th century through French is formal and chiefly humorous (COED). Old French borrowed this word from Latin in the early 12th century (Modern French: délectation [de.lɛk.tɑ.sjɔ̃]). The also very rare Sp. delectación is also attested by the end of the 14th century and most likely it came through French as well. We also find a semi-learned version of Sp. delectación, namely deleitación, which is just as rare, if not more.

Let us look now at the source of Eng. delight, which is pronounced today as [dɪ.ˈlaɪ̯t] or [də.ˈlaɪ̯t]. In Old French, Lat. dēlectāre resulted in the patrimonial verb delitier (also spelled deleitier, deleter, and deliter), first attested in the 12th century, with the same meaning as its Spanish cognate deleitar, namely ‘to please (greatly), charm’. In addition to Spanish deleitar (and delectar), other cognates of this verb include Provençal delechar, delettar or delectar, Portuguese deleitar, and Italian delettare or dilettare. This verb was borrowed into English as delite in the 13th century, also spelled delit or delyt(e), among other ways, and pronounced [də.ˈlit] at the time. In the 16th century the spelling of this word was changed to delight, under the influence of the fixing of the spelling of unrelated patrimonial Germanic words such as night and light, both of which had multiple different possible spellings in Middle English (OED). This change was obviously erroneous from an etymological perspective, unlike in the case of night and flight.[3]

Note that in the 14th century, French replaced this patrimonial verb with a learned version of itself borrowed from written Latin, namely délecter, which is a literary word and is only used in reflexive form as se délecter à ‘to delight in’. This French word is no doubt the source of the very rare verbs Sp. delectar and Eng. delect [dɪ'lɛkt], fancy alternatives to deleitar and delight.

In English, delight can also be a noun, which in Middle English was spelled delit or delite and also pronounced [də.ˈlit], just like the verb. The noun presumably comes not from the English verb by conversion but from Old French delit or deleit, which was a noun derived from the stem of the Old French verb deliter, which would make the noun delight a cognate of Provençal deliet, Spanish deleite, and Italian diletto. The form and pronunciation of the verb and the noun converged in English, although they were different in Old French from where English took them. Thus, in modern English, delight can be a verb meaning ‘to please greatly’, as in She delighted us with a song, or a noun meaning ‘great pleasure’, as in I felt delight, or ‘source of pleasure’, as in That child is a delight. (Note that Old French replaced

to delight

The respective cognates are close in meaning, but not always similar in use. The noun delight, for instance, can be translated as deleite, but usually better translations are placer, gusto, alegría, when talking about the pleasure itself, and as encanto, delicia or placer when talking about a source of pleasure (e.g. Este niño es un encanto / una delicia ‘That child is a delight’). The intransitive, reflexive form of Sp. deleitar, namely deleitarse, translates as ‘to take delight/pleasure, to revel/delight in’, as in Nos deleitamos con los sabrosos manjares ‘We delighted in the tasty delicacies’.

There is a Latin adjective related to and derived from the verb dēlectāre that has been borrowed into English and Spanish, resulting in fancy learned cognates. Latin dēlectābĭlis, which is derived with the third-declension adjectival suffix ‑bĭl‑ (dē‑lect‑ā‑bĭl‑is) has given us the rare Eng. delectable and the even rarer Sp. delectable. Eng. delectable can be synonymous of delicious, when referring to food, and of delightful ‘highly pleasing’ in other contexts. Both of these synonyms are much more common than the rare, fancy delectable, however. Sp. delectable is obsolete and one dictionary that mentions it, María Moliner, says it’s a less-preferred variant of deleitable ‘that causes delight’ and another dictionary, the DLE, says it’s a variant of deleitoso/a, which is perhaps even rarer than delectable.

A much more common adjective for the meaning ‘that causes delight’ in English is delighting and, especially, Eng. delightful, which are derived in English from the noun delight by means of native English suffixes. Sp. deleitante is a possible equivalent of delightful. It is formed in Spanish using the present participle ending ‑ante, but it is also quite rare compared to Eng. delightful. The already mentioned synonym deleitoso/a is even rarer. The most common translations of the English adjective delightful ‘that causes delight’ are other, unrelated words, such as encantador, when referring to a person or a place, delicioso when referring to food or a meal, muy agradable or maravilloso/a (e.g. a time), precioso/a (e.g. a dress), etc.


[1] It. diletto can be a noun meaning ‘delight, pleasure’ and also a noun and adjective meaning ‘beloved (one)’. Note that there are two other words diletto in Italian. One is related to the words we have been studying here, namely the diletto that is the first-person singular present indicative of the verb dilettare ‘to please, delight’ (cognate of Sp. deleitar), often used reflexively as dilettarsi ‘to delight in, to dabble’, as in dilettarsi a fare or facendo ‘to delight in doing, to enjoy doing’ or dilettarsi di musica ‘to dabble in music’ (cf. Sp. deleitarse). The other diletto is the past participle of the verb diligere ‘to respect’.

[2] The loss of the final ‑e was common in Old Spanish. Final e was highly unstable in two periods of the history of Castilian. First in the 10th-11th centuries we find loss of final ‑e after a dental or alveolar consonant (except t, which came from an earlier tt), e.g. pane ‘bread’ > pan, mare ‘sea’ > mar, mese ‘month’ > mes, pace ‘peace’ > paz. Then, in the 13th century, some varieties of Castilian displayed los of ‑e after almost any consonant or consonant cluster. This seems to be the source of the attested word deleit instead of deleite. By the 15th century, however, the lost (apocopated) vowels in this second round had all been restored in all dialects of Spanish.

The word deleit(e) does not seem to be found in the Cid, despite what Corominas says about it. In the Cid poem one finds deliçio four times, which seems to be equivalent to modern deleite, though. Some modern versions of the poem in Modern Spanish translate this deliçio as deleite.

[3] The spellings night and flight had actually been used before when when the gh represented the sound [x] which existed in Old English. These letters are silent in these words today, of course. Eng. delight never had this sound, however. Other words that received a non-etymological gh spelling at this time were inveigh and sprightly.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Words for mushrooms and other fungi, Part 17

[This entry is taken from a chapter of Part II of the open-source textbook  Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Span...