Monday, March 18, 2019

Patrimony-matrimony, part 2: Sp. patrimonio ~ Eng. patrimony

[This entry is an excerpt from Chapter 19, "Patrimony and matrimony", of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

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Sp. patrimonio ~ Eng. patrimony


As we have often seen in this book, there are two types of Latinate words in Spanish, one of which we have been calling patrimonial words, after the traditional Spanish term for these words, namely palabras patrimoniales. These are those words that were passed down orally from Latin to Old Spanish. They contrast with learned words or cultismos, that were borrowed from written Classical Latin during the last thousand years of the language’s history. In this chapter we are going to take a close look at the word patrimonial and a few related ones. We will look first at the cognates Eng. patrimony ~ Sp. patrimonio and their respective, derived adjectives, both written patrimonial. Next, we will look at other (mostly cognate) words that have the root patr- in them, which means ‘father’ in Latin. Finally, from there we will move on to several words with the ending ‑mony, such as matrimony as well as other words that contain the root matr‑, which means ‘mother’ in Latin.

Spanish patrimonio [pa.tɾi.ˈmo.ni̯o] and English patrimony [ˈpʰæ.tɹɪ.mə.nɪ] come from the second declension neuter Latin noun pātrĭmōnĭum, which looks the same in the nominative and in the accusative singular wordforms (cases). English patrimony means either ‘property inherited from one's father or male ancestor’ or, typically ‘heritage’ (COED). This word referred in Latin primarily to ‘an estate inherited from a father, a paternal estate, inheritance, patrimony’. Such an estate inheritance was typically in the form of land and buildings, not money. English synonyms of patrimony are birthright, inheritance, heirloom, and legacy (M-W), which are more common than patrimony. This word falls into the category of fancy vocabulary, not familiar to many speakers.

If you look patrimony in an English-Spanish dictionary it will say it translates as patrominio. However, this Spanish cognate is more common word in the Spanish-speaking world than its English counterpart and their meanings are not identical. In Spanish, patrimonio is a common term meaning ‘the (inherited) assets of a physical person or legal entity [Sp. persona jurídica]’. It is not a fancy or solely legal term, but rather a common word. Sp. patrimonio is first attested around 1300 and it is no doubt a loanword from Latin, perhaps under the influence of French, which borrowed it first.

Figure 130: Logo of the governmental organization Patrimonio Nacional of the Spanish State

Sp. patrimonio is often used to refer a person’s or a family’s material worth, e.g. el patrimonio familiar. Metaphorically, in both languages, but especially in Spanish, the word can be extended to a nation’s accumulated wealth in the form of art, national treasures, archeological findings, or even national parks, all of which are typically protected by special legislation. Thus, in Spanish we can talk about the patrimonio nacional, which includes land, museums, and works of art, or about the patrimonio artístico. In English, one can also talk about the national patrimony, though it is not a common collocation of words.

Lat. pātrĭmōnĭum is formed from the base pātr- and the suffix ‑mōn‑ĭ‑um, feminine ‑mōn‑ĭ‑a, which we will see in more detail below (pātr‑ĭ‑mōn‑ĭ‑um). The root pātr- means ‘father’. The nominative of the word for ‘father’ is pater, but all the other forms of the word have the root patr-, the regular root for this word. The accusative singular is patrem, for example, from which we get Spanish padre (which is a patrimonial word, as evidenced by the d, which comes from Latin t, cf. Part I, Chapter 10). The adjective for padre in Spanish, just like the adjective for father in English is paternal: [pa.teɾ.ˈnal] in Spanish and [pə.ˈtʰɜɹ.nəl] in English. These too are, obviously, not patrimonial words, but rather learned ones.

In both English and Spanish, the related, derived adjectival word is patrimonial, pronounced [ˌpʰæ.tɹɪ.ˈmoʊ̯.nɪə̯l] in English and [pa.tɾi.mo.ˈni̯al] in Spanish. They come from the Latin adjective pātrĭmōnĭālis, derived by means of the third declension adjectival suffix ‑āl(is) from the noun pātrĭmōnĭum: pātr‑ĭ‑mōn‑ĭ‑āl‑is. In both languages, these words were adopted from written Latin in the 14th century, so patrimonial is not a patrimonial word in Spanish (nor patrimonial cannot be a patrimonial word in English, since English does not descend from Latin).

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