Saturday, October 31, 2020

Urgent emergencies, Part 2

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

Eng. emergency ~ Sp. emergencia

The source of the cognate nouns Eng. emergency ~ Sp. emergencia is the Late Latin noun ēmergentĭa, which was derived from the stem ēmergent‑ of the (third-declension) present participle ēmergēns ‘emerging, arising, etc.’ of the third conjugation verb ēmergĕre (accusative case: ēmergentem, regular stem: ēmergent‑). The verb ēmergĕre was mostly used reflexively or passively with the intransitive meaning ‘to come forth, come up, arise, emerge’ (L&S), though it could also used as a transitive verb meaning ‘to bring forth, bring to light, raise up’. This verb was derived from the verb mergĕre ‘dip (in), immerse; plunge into water; overwhelm, etc.’ by means of the variant ē‑ of the prefix ex‑ ‘out’. As we will see more closely in the next section, neither one of these verbs was transmitted patrimonially to Spanish but Spanish eventually borrowed ēmergĕre, as emerger, though it did not borrow Lat. mergĕre, whereas English borrowed both Latin verbs, as merge and emerge (more on these verbs in the next section).

The noun ēmergentĭa was derived from the mentioned stem ēmergent‑ by means of the suffix ‑ĭ‑a which typically made first declension abstract nouns, usually from adjectives or present participles, which were but adjectives derived from verbs. Another example of this, this one from Classical Latin, is the noun absentĭa ‘absence’ (cf. Sp. ausencia), derived the same way from the participle absēns/absentis ‘absent’, present participle of the verb abesse ‘to be away’ (< ab- 'away from' + esse 'to be')‎. We can see the ‑ĭ‑ as the actual suffix and the final ‑a was the nominative singular inflection, which changed for different case wordforms (cf. Part I, Chapters 5, 8). The ‑ent‑ part was the regular present participle suffix.[1] As we have often seen in this book, the resulting ending …tia of many Latin words has resulted in numerous English loanwords in ‑cy and ‑ce and Spanish loanwords in ‑cia and ‑cía, which are the possible reflexes in these languages of the Latin ending ‑tĭa. The ēmerg‑ stem itself contained the root merg‑ and the prefix ē‑, as we shall see. Thus, we can analyze the Latin word ēmergentĭa as follows:


Note that English and Spanish have also borrowed this verb’s present participle from Latin, cf. the cognates Eng. emergent ~ Sp. emergente. These adjectives are closely related semantically to verbs in each language, namely Eng. emerge ~ Sp. emerger, which we will discuss below. The main meaning of the adjectives today is ‘in the process of coming into being or prominence; emerging’ (COED), as in the expressions emergent spring shoots, an emergent political leader, and emergent nations (AHD). In Philosophy, these words are used to refer to properties, namely those ‘arising as an effect of complex causes and not analyzable simply as the sum of their effects’ (COED).

Actually, the Latin noun ēmergentĭa has been borrowed twice into English. It was borrowed as emergence [ɪ.ˈmɜɹ.ʤəns], presumably directly from Late Lat. ēmergentĭa (OED). The Latin ending in ‑t‑ĭa had traditionally changed to ‑ce in patrimonial French words derived from Latin present participles, words with the ending ‑ance and ‑ence in French, which descended from words ending in ‑antia and ‑entia in Latin. (This ending ‑ce is pronounced [s] in both Modern French, just like in English). This pattern for endings in patrimonial French words was extended to new Latin present participles that were borrowed into French, and the same ending was kept when the word was borrowed from French into English. Actually, the French word émergence is attested as early as 1498, so one might have thought that English could have borrowed this Latin word though French, as was often the case. However, in the early days, Fr. émergence did not have its current meaning for it was simply a legal term that meant something like ‘dependence’, and it did not start being used with something close to its current meaning until the early 18th century (TLFi). This is one of the reasons we think that English did not borrow this word through French but, rather, directly from written Latin, though matters could be more complicated.

The meaning of Eng. emergence has changed through the years, starting with ‘an unforeseen occurrence’, ‘pressing need, urgent want’, meanings that later went to the related word emergency (see below); and ‘the rising (of a submerged body) out of the water’ (OED). Today, the noun emergence is tied to the meaning of the verb emerge (see below) and it means primarily ‘the act or process of emerging’ (AHD).

English-Spanish dictionaries tell us that the main translation of Eng. emergence in modern Spanish is aparición, a noun derived from the verb aparecer ‘to appear, show up, come up’, especially when something comes out of hiding. Other possible translations found in dictionaries include surgimiento, derived from surgir ‘to come up’, and even revelación ‘revelation, disclosure’, related to the noun revelar ‘to reveal, disclose, etc.’, especially when speaking of facts or the truth. Most English-Spanish dictionaries do not give sample phrases or sentences for such translations of Eng. emergence. One that we have found is the following: his emergence on the international stage, which is translated as su aparición or irrupción en el ámbito internacional (Harraps). No English-Spanish dictionary seems to mention the English noun’s Spanish cognate emergencia as a possible translation for it, though if we look at the meaning of Sp. emergencia in Spanish dictionaries it would seem that one of its meanings is equivalent to that of Eng. emergence, as we will see below (the first sense of this word in the DLE is ‘acción y efecto de emerger’). We will return to this discrepancy below when we look at Sp. emergencia.

English borrowed Late Latin ēmergentĭa a second time as emergency, also in the first half of the 17th century. The ending ‑cy appears in Latinate English words as another possible reflex of the Latin endings ‑t‑ĭa and ‑c‑ĭa as well as Greek words ending in ‑κια (‑kia), ‑κεια (‑keia), ‑τια (‑tia), or ‑τεια (‑teia), occasionally also when this ending was attached to a present participle stem. This ending came into English from the Anglo-Norman dialect of Old French -cie, cf. pharmacy, legacy, policy, infancy, agency, etc. (cf. Sp. farmacia, infancia, agencia). An early meaning of Eng. emergency was ‘the rising of a submerged body above the surface of water’, equivalent to an early meanings of emergence, as we just saw, and ‘the arising, sudden or unexpected occurrence (of a state of things, an event, etc.)’ (OED). As we saw earlier, the current meaning of the word emergency is ‘a serious, unexpected, and potentially dangerous situation requiring immediate action’ (COED).

Spanish originally borrowed the noun emergencia, cognate of Eng. emergence and emergency, in the 17th century, with a meaning closer to the original, namely ‘an act of emerging, coming out’ or, in other words, the meaning of Eng. emergence, a meaning that Sp. emergencia still has, as in No debe asustarnos la emergencia de nuevas teorías ‘The emergence of new theories should not scare us’ (DUEAE). As we can see, contrary to what English-Spanish dictionaries tell us, Sp. emergencia can be translated by Eng. emergence, since one of the senses of Sp. emergencia is quite close to the meaning of Eng. emergence, though perhaps mostly when referring to the emerging of non-physical entities, such as theories, not so much physical entities. So, for example, we probably would never use the noun emergencia to speak of a submarine surfacing (?la emergencia del submarino), though the choice would not so far-fetched in the case of Eng. emergence, cf. the emergence of the submarine.

But Sp. emergencia has also come to have another meaning, namely the only meaning that Eng. emergency has today, something like ‘urgent matter’, as in Llámenme si surge alguna emergencia ‘call me if there is an emergency’. This second meaning has come about under the influence of Eng. emergency and it is thus a semantic calque (cf. Part I, Chapter 2), a calque that purists have disapproved of in the past, but one that is by now well established in the language. Corominas, for instance, calls this borrowed new sense of Sp. emergencia a ‘crude Anglicism’ (grosero anglicismo).[2]

Interestingly, French does not seem to have calqued the ‘urgent matter’ meaning of Eng. emergency into its own word émergence, which still means ‘emergence’ only, e.g. l’émergence du racisme ‘the emergence of racism’ (GDL) (= Sp. la emergencia del racismo). Crucially, the way to express the meaning ‘urgent matter’ in French is urgence [yrˈʒɑ̃s], the cognate of Eng. urgency and Sp. urgencia, as in Appelez-moi en cas d’urgence ‘Call me if there is an emergency’. We will return to this important fact in the final section of this chapter when we look at these words.

As we said earlier, English borrowed the word emergency in the middle of the 17th century with a variety of meanings, some of which are now (very) archaic or obsolete. One meaning of the noun emergency that is obsolete today is related to the meaning of the verb emerge, namely ‘the rising of a submerged body above the surface of water’ (OED). This meaning has been taken over by the cognate doublet emergence. The main meaning of the noun emergency that has survived is a special case of an earlier one. The OED defines this particular early meaning as ‘a juncture that arises or ‘turns up’; especially a state of things unexpectedly arising, and urgently demanding immediate action’ (OED). Thus, the main meaning of Eng. emergency today is what was once a special case of the original meaning, namely ‘a serious, unexpected, and potentially dangerous situation requiring immediate action’ (COED). When used as a modifier, this meaning can be defined as ‘arising from or used in an emergency’, as in an emergency exit (COED) (= Sp. salida de emergencia). As we have seen, Sp. emergencia is a possible translation of both Eng. emergence and of Eng. emergency. But we also saw that there is a reluctance to use emergencia today with the meaning ‘emergence’, a reluctance that dictionaries reflect. A major reason for this reluctance is likely that the ‘urgent matter’ sense has become primary for this Spanish word and that the original ‘emerging matter’ sense is becoming blocked by the newer one and may eventually become obsolete the way that sense became obsolete in Eng. emergency some time ago.

We have seen that one difference between the cognates Eng. emergency ~ Sp. emergencia is that the latter has two main meanings, equivalent to the meanings of the two English cognates (doublet) emergence and emergency, even though the second of these meanings seems to have become the primary, if not the only possible one, in recent times, due to the influence of its English cognate emergency. We also saw in the first section that Eng. emergency is used in North America in certain medical contexts, many of which translate into Spanish as emergencia, but not all and not equally in all dialects of Spanish. There are also uses of the word emergency in common English collocations or idiomatic expressions that do not always translate into Spanish as emergencia or at least not in all dialects of Spanish. In some cases, the Spanish equivalent word is urgencia, at least in some dialects, but in other cases, Spanish uses a totally different word to translate emergency in these expressions. In some cases, the difference is dialectal, such as when the Spanish dialect of Spain uses urgencias for an emergency room/ward. The following collocations, or mildly idiomatic expressions, are taken from various English-Spanish dictionaries. Some of these English expressions have alternative versions that contain the word emergencia, versions which in some varieties of Spanish may be quite well established, but which sound odd in other varieties.

  • emergency (room/ward) = (sala de) urgencias/emergencia(s)
  • emergency services = servicios de urgencia/emergencia/socorro[3]
  • in an emergency, in case of emergency = en una emergencia, en caso de emergencia
  • emergency landing = aterrizaje forzoso / ?aterrizaje de emergencia
  • emergency measures = medidas de urgencia/emergencia
  • emergency services = servicios de urgencia/emergencia/socorro
  • emergency stop = parada en seco / ?parada de emergencia
  • emergency brake (only US; UK = handbrake) = freno de mano
  • emergency supplies = provisiones/artículos para emergencias/imprevistos, etc.
  • emergency talks = ? negociaciones de emergencia
  • emergency exit = salida de emergencia
  • emergency blanket = manta de supervivencia / manta isotérmica
  • emergency phone number = teléfono de emergencias/urgencias
  • emergency fund = ?dinero para imprevistos/emergencias

[1] Actually, the wordform ēmergentĭa was also originally the nominative, plural, neuter form of the present participle ēmergēns (masc. and fem. ēmergentēs).

[2] DCEH: ‘emergencia [S. XVII, Aut.; está ganando terreno el grosero anglicismo consistente en darle el sentido de ‘alarma’, ‘caso urgente’, ‘caso de necesidad’]’

[3] The noun socorro means ‘help, aid, assistance’. It is derived from the verb socorrer ‘to help, assist, come to the aid of, go to the aid of’ (AEIV). This verb descends from Lat. succurrĕre ‘to help, aid’ (< sub‑ ‘under’ + currĕre ‘to run’), and it is a cognate of Eng. succur/succour, a rare verb that also means ‘give assistance or aid to’ (COED). Before the creation of modern hospitals with emergency rooms, the casa de socorro was where people were taken in medical emergencies. The equivalent term in the UK is first-aid post, something like free clinic in the US. The derived word socorrista means ‘lifeguard, first-aider’.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Urgent emergencies, Part 1

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

Introduction: medical emergencies

The phrase urgent emergency is obviously redundant since an emergency is, by definition, an urgent matter. The dictionary defines emergency as ‘a serious situation or occurrence that happens unexpectedly and demands immediate [i.e. urgent] action’ (AHD). In this chapter we are going to analyze two pairs of interesting cognate words in English and Spanish, namely Eng. emergency ~ Sp. emergencia and Eng. urgency ~ Sp. urgencia, as well as all the words in these two languages that are related to them because they contain the same Latin roots: merg‑ and urg‑.

In addition to the semantic relatedness of these words, in this section we are going to see that there is also a curious difference in how the words are used in different parts of the English- and Spanish-speaking worlds to refer to the section of a hospital that deals with urgent matters or emergencies. In North America, the word emergency has been chosen to describe such a section, so that one of the meanings of the word emergency is ‘the department in a hospital which provides immediate treatment’, as in A doctor in emergency cleaned the wound (OD).[i] Actually, the hospital section is known as the emergency room or emergency ward, which is sometimes shortened to emergency, as in He was rushed into emergency (OAD).

Figure 1: Emergency entrance at a US hospital.[ii]

In many parts of the Spanish-speaking world, the cognate word emergencia has also come to be used for the same purpose, under the influence of the English word. 

Figure 2: Emergency area of Guasmo Sur hospital, in Guayaquil, Ecuador[iii]

In Spain, however, the word urgencias, the plural of the word urgencia, which is the Spanish cognate of Eng. urgency, has come be associated with this same area of a hospital

Figure 3: Emergency section of a hospital in Spain[iv]

The word emergency is also often used in English in medicine-related expressions such as the following (the definitions are from LDCE):

  • emergency treatment ‘medical treatment given to someone when they have been injured or become ill suddenly’
  • emergency operation ‘a medical operation that is carried out quickly when someone has been injured or become ill suddenly’
  • emergency vehicle ‘an ambulance or fire engine’

Still, the use of emergency to refer to a hospital section is only found in North America. In the United Kingdom, the emergency room is called casualty department o casualty ward. In Australia, New Zealand, and other English-speaking countries, the same section of the hospital is called accident and emergency, or A&E for short.

As we just saw, in some Spanish-speaking countries, the North American use of the word emergency in medical matters has been calqued. In those countries, the relevant section of the hospital is called sala de emergencias ‘emergency room’ and the sign found at the hospital entrance is emergencia. However, in Spain, the same section of the hospital is known as urgencias, plural of urgencia 'urgency', as in Entró en urgencias a las 17:20 ‘She was admitted to the emergency room at 5:20pm’ (DUEAEV). The room itself may be known as sala de urgencias, also sometimes referred to as servicio de urgencias, lit. ‘emergency service’.

As we said, the reason why Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas label their emergency rooms as emergencia is due to the influence of North-American English, so that this sense of the English word emergency has been added to the already-existing Spanish word emergencia, something known as semantic calque (cf. Part I, Chapter 2, § However, the reason the same area in Spain is known as urgencias does not seem to be due to Spain's linguistic independence from foreign influence, but rather to the influence of the French language, for in France, the sign for such entrances is labeled urgences, plural of the word urgence

Figure 4: Entrance to an emergency room in France.[v]

There are other medical expressions for which English uses the word emergency which translate into French with expressions containing the word urgence(s), a use that has been calqued in Spain: service des urgences ‘emergency services’ = (Spain) servicio de urgencias, opération d’urgence ‘emergency operation’ = (Spain) operación de urgencia, and intervention médicale d’urgence ‘emergency medical intervention’ = (Spain) intervención médica de urgencia (Le Petit Robert). This medical use of the word urgence dates back only to around 1960 (LPR).

There is a branch of medicine called emergency medicine in English. It can be defined as ‘the branch of medicine that deals with evaluation and initial treatment of medical conditions caused by trauma or sudden illness’ (AHD), or ‘a medical specialty concerned with the care and treatment of acutely ill or injured patients who need immediate medical attention’ (MWC). The term emergency medicine is a very recent one, dating from 1966. In most of the Spanish-speaking world, this expression has been calqued as medicina de emergencia. In Spain, however, the word urgencia(s) is often added to this expression, as in the title of a recent textbook on the topic, Medicina de urgencias y emergencias, or in the name of the association of emergency medical doctors in Spain, Sociedad Española de Medicina de Urgencias y Emergencias.[vi] Despite the double name, urgencias y emergencias, which is also found sometimes outside Spain in the Spanish-speaking world, it doesn’t seem likely that most speakers know the difference between the words urgencia and emergencia in this context, which seem to be nothing but dialectal variants for the same thing. It seems, however, that there is a technical difference between the two words in medicine. Presumably, although both words refer to a situation in which a medical decision must be made quickly, an emergencia is a situation and the patient’s life is at risk, whereas an urgencia is a situation in which the patient’s life is not at risk. No such distinction seems to be made in English, where the term emergency medicine covers both possibilities (an alternative name in English for this branch of medicine is accident and emergency medicine, used in parts of the English-speaking world).

By the way, emergency medicine has become a specialty in the Anglo-American model of medicine in recent decades. In countries that follow this system, it is a recognized specialty with its own training programs, for instance. In the European model, there isn’t such a specialty, and emergency medicine is practiced by medical doctors of different specialties.[vii]

Finally, we should mention that the word urgent is not absent from the medical field in the English-speaking world. Thus, for instance, there is a category of medical care facility in the United States that goes by the name of urgent care center. A similar facility in the UK is known as urgent treatment centre. In the words of Wikipedia: ‘Urgent care is a category of walk-in clinic in the United States focused on the delivery of ambulatory care in a dedicated medical facility outside of a traditional emergency department (emergency room). Urgent care centers primarily treat injuries or illnesses requiring immediate care but not serious enough to require an emergency department (ED) visit.’[viii] As you can see, this use or urgent is based on the already mentioned difference between emergency situations, in which the patient’s life is at risk, and urgent situations, in which it is not.

Go to Part 2

[i] Oxford Dictionary of English, Revised Edition. © Oxford University Press 2005.

[iv] Source:, Entrada del servicio de Urgencias del Hospital Universitario, que empieza hoy a las ocho de la mañana a atender a usuarios. :: JORGE REY (2020.10.25)

[vi] Medicina de urgencias y emergencias, by Luis Jiménez Murillo & F. Javier Montero Pérez. Elsevier. In its 6th edition (2018).


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Eng. discuss and Sp. discutir, Part 16

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

Sp. cascar and related words

The Spanish verb cascar is also related to the Latin verb quăssāre that was derived from the verb quătĕre that we have been discussing in this chapter. This is the last Spanish descendant of that verb that we will explore here. The main meaning of transitive Sp. cascar is ‘to crack’, referring to something easily cracked, in particular the hard outside of things like nuts and eggs, e.g. cascar un huevo ‘to crack an egg’. As usual, this verb can be rendered intransitive by conjugating it pronominally (as a reflexive verb), e.g. El plato se cascó ‘The plate cracked’. In both cases, it is implied that the pieces that were broken did not fully separate. When speaking of something dishware, cascar can also be equivalent to Eng. chip.[a] This verb is a cognate of Catalan cascar and Portuguese cascar.

In addition, Sp. cascar has a number of mostly colloquial and thus typically dialectal senses, some of which are common only in Spain. These senses are labelled coloquial in the DLE and informal in MM. A colloquial transitive sense means ‘to hit, beat (someone)’, as in Su padre les casca ‘Their father hits them’. With the subject or object la voz ‘voice’, cascar has the meaning ‘to became hoarse’, as in Se le cascó la voz (subject) de tanto gritar ‘He became hoarse from so much screaming’, Si gritas tanto, te cascarás la voz (object) ‘If you scream so much, you will become hoarse’.

Some of the idiomatic uses are used only in Spain. With or without a direct object la, cascar(la) is used in Spain with the meaning ‘to die’, something like the ‘kick the bucket’ in English, as in Mi padre (la) cascó el año pasado ‘My father kicked the bucket last year’. Also in Spain, pronominal cascársela is used colloquially with the meaning ‘masturbate’, equivalent to the expressions ‘to jerk off’ in the US and ‘to wank’ in Britain. In Spain, intransitive cascar can be used colloquially with the meaning ‘to chat, talk a lot’ (cf. charlar), and ‘to harm’ (cf. hacer daño), as in La bebida casca ‘Drinking is bad for you’ (AEIV; cf. Este wiski casca mucho ‘This whiskey is really strong/really hits you’).

The Academies’ Diccionario de americanismos mentions several uses of the word cascar in different American countries that are unknown in other countries (and in particular in Spain). Three main senses are identified, one of which has two subsenses, all of which are colloquial (labeled popular in the DAm). Transitive cascar can mean in Ecuador ‘to chew something hard until breaking it’ and in parts of Bolivia ‘to chew on a bone until all meat is gone’. Another sense of cascar in those same parts of Bolivia is ‘to do something with great desire and determination’. Finally, in Chile, intransitive cascar means ‘to take off in a hurry’.[b]

Sp. cascar is thought to have descended patrimonially (by uninterrupted word-of-mouth transmission) from a Vulgar Latin verb *quassicare ‘to strike repeatedly’, not attested in writing but assumed to have existed because of its reflexes (descendants) in Spanish and other Romance languages. This Vulgar Latin verb would have been derived from the root quass‑ of Latin verb quăssāre by means of the suffix ‑ĭc‑ that formed first-conjugation verbs in Latin and added the sense of frequent or repetitive action to the meaning of a verb. Two other verbs derived with this suffix are fodĭcāre ‘to dig; to pierce, stab’ from the verb fodĕre ‘to dig, bury, etc.’ (fod‑ĭc‑āre) and albĭcāre ‘to whiten, make white’ from the verb albēre ‘to be white’, from the adjective albus/a ‘white’ (alb‑ĭc‑āre). Sp. cascar is first attested in writing in the late 15th century, though cognates in other Romance languages appear earlier, such as Cat. cascar in the 13th century.

As for the changes in the form of this word from V.Lat. quassicare to Sp. cascar, that is the sound changes and thus the spelling changes, they are quite predictable. The loss of the Latin [u] is no surprise since Latin qu [kw] was reduced to [k] in Old Spanish before the vowels [e], [i], and (almost always) before unstressed [a], as in this case. This [k] sound is spelled qu before [e] and [i] in Spanish but c before [a], as in this case, cf. Eng. quality ~ Sp. calidad, Eng. quantity ~ Sp. cantidad. As for the loss of the vowel [i], that is also totally predictable, since it was an intertonic vowel, that is, a low energy vowel in word-internal position next to a stressed syllable (cf. Part I, Chapter 8).

Sp. cascar, which as we saw comes from V.Lat. *quassicare, has a very similar source as Sp. quejar, which comes from V.Lat. *quassiare, which makes these words cognate (related), but not cognates (doublets), since they do not come from the very same lexeme in the source language (cf. Part I, Chapter 1). Although the sources differ in just one letter, the medial ‑c‑, that small difference made a big difference in the evolution of these two patrimonial words. That is because the ‑i‑ of four-syllable *quassicare was a true vowel [i], whereas the ‑i‑ of three-syllable *quassiare was a semivowel [i̯]. As we saw above, in *quassiare, the semivowel caused the change of the preceding consonant [s] (originally [ss], but such double consonants always reduced to one in Old Spanish) to a palatal [ʃ] (and eventually jota [x] or [h] in the 17th century). Finally, the palatal consonant [ʃ] was  itself responsible for the change in the root vowel from [a] to [e]. In the case of *quassicare, the antepenultimate vowel was lost in Old Spanish due to the fact that it was an intertonic vowel, as we just saw.

There are a number of common words related to the Spanish verb cascar. First we have the adjective cascado/a, which is derived by conversion from the (identical) past participle of the verb cascar meaning ‘cracked’. This adjective means ‘hoarse’ when referring to a person’s voice, cf. voz cascada ‘hoarse voice’. In addition, this adjective is used colloquially in Spain and perhaps other dialects with the meaning ‘worn out, decrepit’ when referring to people, for instance, e.g. Mi padre está muy cascado ‘My father is quite decrepit’, and ‘broken down’ when referring to things such as machines, as in Mi coche está muy cascado ‘My car is a wreck’.

Several nouns are derived from the verb cascar. The main one is cáscara, which refers to the hard protective outside of many edibles, such as the shell of an egg, the husk of grain, or even the skin of fruit if it is hard (if thin and soft, the skin of fruit is known as piel ‘skin’). This name is presumably due to the fact that this outside part needs to be cracked or broken (cascar) in order to get to the edible part.

According to DCEH, the word cáscara is first attested in the early 14th century and it was formed in Spanish from the verb cascar. The development of cáscara from cascar however does not follow a regular Spanish word-development pattern, so it is not clear how the word developed. However, there is a variant of cáscara that was more like what we would have expected in a noun developed from this verb (by conversion), namely casca, which was very common in earlier times as a variant of cáscara (DCEH). The dictionary tells us that casca is still a possible synonym of cáscara (the first sense in María Moliner’s dictionary and the fourth one in the Academies’ dictionary), though it is quite rare today, and this word is mostly used with other (rare) meanings, such as ‘grape skins after crushing and squeezing’ and ‘bark of certain trees, used to tan hides and dye fishing gear and tackle’ (DLE).[c]

Even less frequent as a synonym of cáscara is the masculine companion of casca, namely casco, which is used in some dialects to refer to an eggshell (DCEH). However, the noun casco is very common in Spanish with different meanings, including its main meaning today, which is ‘helmet’ or ‘hardhat’. Sp. casco is attested from the earliest times (Mio Cid), with different senses, such as ‘broken piece of pot or roof tile’, ‘skull, head’, and ‘piece of armor covering the head’ (DCEH). Sp. casco is the source of Fr. casque and It. casco for a piece of armor, for these languages borrowed this word from Spanish (DCEH). But Sp. casco has several other meanings: ‘hoof of an animal’, ‘hull of a ship’, ‘central part of a town or city’ (e.g. casco antiguo ‘old part of town’, casco urbano ‘town/city center’), and in the plural, ‘headphones’ (Ponte los cascos ‘Put on your headphones’), empty bottle (= envase), ‘broken piece, fragment’, and ‘piece of shrapnel’.

Sp. cascarón is quite clearly an augmentative of Sp. cáscara, formed with the augmentative suffix ‑ón (cascar-ón). Its meaning is primarily ‘eggshell’, as in cascarón de huevo ‘eggshell, shell of an egg’. This word is used in the colloquial expression recién salido/a del cascarón that means something like ‘just hatched’ or, less literally, ‘wet behind the ears’.

According to DCEH, casco originally meant something like ‘broken piece of pot’ and from this sense, the ‘skull’ sense was derived. This meaning shift is not as rare as it might seem, however. So, for instance, Lat. testa, which meant originally ‘a piece of burned clay, a brick, tile’ (L&S) (but also ‘earthen pot, pitcher, jug, urn, etc.’), is the source of the word for ‘head’ in some Romance languages, such as Fr. tête [ˈtɛt] and It. testa. The connection between the meanings ‘skull’ and ‘helmet’, however, is less obvious. DCEH notes that the word for a metal helmet in Latin was cassis (genitive: cassĭdis; regular stem: cassĭd‑), a word of unknown origin but definitely not related to the word that meant ‘piece of burned clay, etc.’. It is thus possible that the word casco came to be used for an armor helmet due to the phonetic similarity between this and the Latin word.

Another noun derived from cascar is cascajo ‘(builders’) rubble, construction debris’ or, colloquially, ‘piece of junk’. In Colombia, however, it can mean ‘piece of gravel’. A colloquial expression with cascajo is estar hecho/a un cascajo ‘(said of a person) to be a wreck’ (AEIV). This word was attested in the 12th century as cascago, cf. Asturian cascayu (DCEH).

By the way, the noun cascada ‘waterfall, cascade’ is unrelated to the Spanish word cascar (and thus its participle cascado/a) since that word is a loanword from Italian cascata ‘fall’, probably borrowed through Fr. cascade which seems to have borrowed it first; cf. Eng. cascade, a 17th century loan of Italian cascata borrowed through French cascade. Italian cascata word comes from the past participle of the Italian verb cascare ‘to fall’, descended from Vulgar Lat. *casicare, a verb derived by means of the suffix ‑ĭc‑ we just saw from Lat. cadĕre ‘to fall’, source of Sp. caer ‘to fall’. More specifically, the verb casicare was developed from the stem cās‑ of the passive participle cāsus ‘fallen’ of the verb cadĕre ‘to fall’, not from the present stem cad‑. Thus, Vulgar Lat. *casicare and *cassicare are not in any way related and neither are words derived from them.

Finally, we should mention that there are at least two quite common compound words formed with the verb cascar. One is cascanueces ‘nutcracker’, derived from the phrase cascar nueces ‘to crack (wal)nuts’. (The Spanish word nuez means ‘walnut’ and there is no single word to translate the English word nut with the meaning ‘a fruit consisting of a hard or tough shell around an edible kernel’, COED.)

The other common compound with cascar is cascarrabias ‘cantankerous, grumpy (person)’, an oddly formed compound. María Moliner defines this term as ‘person who gets angry for little reason’ and gives several interesting synonyms: bejín, berrín, berrinchudo, corajudo, paparrabias, perrengue, rabietas, rabietillas, and tufillas. The compound word cascarrabias was probably derived from an idiomatic expression cascar rabias, but this expression is rather meaningless in modern Spanish. The word rabia means ‘rage, fury, anger’ in Spanish, though its meaning in medicine is ‘rabies’, which makes this word cognate with Eng. rabiesɹ̯biz]. Sp. rabia is a very common word found in expressions such as dar rabia ‘to make furious’ and tenerle rabia a alguien ‘to be furious at somebody, to have it in for somebody’, con rabia ‘angrily, in a rage’, and ¡Qué rabia! ‘How annoying!’. Sp. rabia V.Lat. rabia a reformed first-declension version of an earlier fifth-declension rabiēs ‘rage, madness’, derived from the verb rabĕre ‘to be mad, rave’. (Note that this verb is not the source of Eng. rave, borrowed through Old French raver, variant of resver, in the early 14th century, of uncertain origin.)

Another term that sounds related to the verb cascar but is not is cascabel ‘bell, jingle bell’. This word is a loanword from Occitan or perhaps Catalan cascavel, a diminutive of Vulgar Latin cascabus, a variant of Lat. caccăbus or cācăbus ‘cooking pot’.

[a] María Moliner’s dictionary defines the first and main sense of the verb cascar as follows: ‘cascar (del sup. lat. «quassicāre») 1. tr. y prnl. *Romper[se] una cosa quebradiza; particularmente, la envoltura leñosa de los ↘frutos secos como nueces, avellanas o piñones. Quebrantar[se]. Romper[se] un ↘objeto de esa clase sin que lleguen a separarse los trozos: ‘El vaso se ha cascado al caerse’. *Agrietar[se], *rajar[se]. Frañer, partir, quebrantar. Descascar, descascarar, descascarillar. Cascanueces, cascapiñones, cascarrabias. *Picar. (MM). The Academies’ dictionary is much less specific: ‘1. tr. Quebrantar o hender algo quebradizo. U. t. c. prnl.’ (DLE).

[b] The original entry is: ‘cascar. I. 1. tr. Ec. p.u. Masticar algo duro hasta romperlo con los dientes. pop. 2. Bo:O,C. Roer un hueso hasta dejarlo sin carne. pop. II. 1. intr. Ch. Irse alguien rápidamente de un lugar. pop + cult → espon. III. 1. tr. Bo:O,C. Hacer algo con muchas ganas y ahínco. pop + cult → espon.’ (DAm)

[c] The original says: ‘casca (De cascar). 1. f. Hollejo de la uva después de pisada y exprimida. 2. Corteza de ciertos árboles, que se usa para curtir las pieles y teñir artes y aparejos de pesca. 3. Rosca compuesta de mazapán y cidra o batata, bañada y cubierta con azúcar. 4. cáscara (ǁ corteza o cubierta exterior). 5. Tol. aguapié (ǁ vino muy bajo)’ (DLE).

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Eng. discuss and Sp. discutir, Part 15

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

Eng. quash and squash, and Sp. casar and concuasar

As we saw earlier, the English verb quash, pronounced [ˈkʰwɒʃ] or [ˈkʰwɑʃ], depending on the dialect, is a 13th century loanword from an Old French verb that was attested with different spellings, among them quaisser, quaissier, quasier, and quassier (OED). The reflex of this verb in Modern French is casser, meaning ‘to break’, as we mentioned earlier. We find different spellings for this verb in Middle English, such as cwesse, queysse, quasche, quassch, quassh, and quaysch. The Old French verb seems to descend from a Vulgar Latin variant *quassiare of classical Latin quăssāre, the same Latin verb that has supposedly given us Sp. quejar, as we saw in the preceding section.

The verb quash has two quite different main meanings in Modern English:

(1)  ‘to put down or suppress forcibly and completely (AHD), which is applied to things such as revolts, as in quash a rebellion; this sense can be translated into Spanish as sofocar, aplastar, or acallar; and

(2)  ‘to set aside or annul, especially by judicial action’ (AHD), which is a legal term, e.g. The High Court later quashed his conviction for murder (LDCE); this sense of quash translates into Spanish as anular, invalidar, or revocar

It is thought that the reason there are two such rather different meanings for Eng. quash is that the these meanings actually come ultimately from two different Latin verbs which merged at some point in Medieval Latin, before the word was borrowed into English or even French. Only one of these meanings, the ‘suppress’ sense, would descend from classical Lat. quassāre, whereas the ‘cancel’ sense presumably comes from a post-classical Lat. cassāre, which merged with quassāre in Medieval Latin and from there made it into Old French. This Latin verb cassāre originally meant ‘to bring to naught, destroy’ and in the language of jurists, ‘to annul, make null or void’ (synonymous with abrogāre; L&S). This verb is attested in the 4th century with the sense ‘to destroy’, in the 5th century with the sense ‘to annul’, and by the 12th century with the sense ‘to reject’ (OED). The original Latin verb cassāre was derived from the classical Latin adjective cassus/a/um ‘null, empty, hollow, etc.’, a word that has not been passed on to most Romance languages (cass‑us > cass‑āre).

The Latin verb cassāre has been borrowed by Spanish, though it is a rare legal term. Portuguese also borrowed the Latin verb, as cassar. This Spanish verb is casar, which is homophonous and homonymous with the verb casar a transitive verb that means ‘to marry’ (the intransitive meaning ‘to get married’ is given by the pronominal or reflexive casarse). The meaning of this legal verb casar is simply ‘to quash’, which the DLE defines by means of some synonyms: ‘anular, abrogar, derogar’ (cf. Eng. annul, abrogate, derogate). María Moliner’s dictionary is more explicit and tells us that this verb is typically used to describe the annulment of a court’s sentence by a higher court.[1]

María Moliner’s dictionary also tells us that the verb casar that means ‘to quash’ used to have a synonym, now obsolete, namely concuasar, a loanword from Lat. conquassāre, a verb derived from the verb quassāre by means of the intensive prefix con‑ (con‑quass‑āre) and which meant ‘to shake severely’ and ‘to shatter, dash to pieces’ (L&S). The obsolete Spanish verb concuasar does not appear in many Spanish dictionaries since it is now obsolete. It does appear in the DLE and MM dictionaries and, interestingly, only María Moliner’s tells us that this verb had the ‘annul’ sense (like casar), now obsolete. Both dictionaries tell us that concuasar used to have a ‘smash, break’ sense (like in the Latin source). In addition, María Moliner’s dictionary tells us about the obsolete ‘annul’ sense. The Academies’ dictionary tells us that in Bolivia concuasar is still used in Bolivia to this day as a transitive verb with the meaning ‘to match up, fit together’, which is curiously a derived sense of the other, unrelated verb casar that means ‘to marry’, according to the Academies’ dictionary (DLE).[2] The Diccionario de americanismos (DA) differs somewhat with this claim and tells us that concuasar is an intransitive verb used in Perú, Bolivia and Paraguay to mean ‘to match, adjust or square one thing with another’ and in Bolivia to mean ‘for two or more people agree on something that has been said or done’.[3]

Most dictionaries treat the two senses of the English verb quash as just two senses of the very same word, a single verb quash. However, at least one major dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary, gives two different homonymous verbs side by side because of their different ultimate sources. Thus, if we look for the word quash in this dictionary, we find the entries quash1 and quash2.

In addition to borrowing the French descendant of the Latin verb cassāre, English also borrowed a Latin noun derived from this verb, namely the late Latin action noun cassātĭōn‑, derived by means of the suffix ‑ĭōn‑ from the stem cassa‑t‑ of the verb’s passive participle cassātus (cass‑ā‑t‑ĭōn‑). This noun is not attested in classical Latin, so it may have been formed in Medieval Latin or even in French after this language borrowed the Latin verb.

The noun cassation was borrowed into both English and French in the early 15th century. The OED says that Eng. cassation, pronounced [kæˈseɪ̯ʃən] or [kəˈseɪ̯ʃən], came into English from Latin, but it is quite likely that it was formed in French first and from there it passed on to English. The meaning of these words was ‘the action of making null or void; cancellation, abrogation’ (OED).[4] The cognate word casación is attested in Spanish with the same meaning, also by the end of the 15th century, and it probably also came through French. The noun is found in collocations such as recurso de casación ‘appeal in a high court’, tribunal de casación ‘court of cassation’.

The OED tells us that the noun cassation was also used with another sense in the 17th century, a sense that is now obsolete: ‘dismissal of a soldier; cashiering’ (OED). Interestingly, English has another noun cassation, one that means ‘a piece of instrumental music of the eighteenth century similar to the serenade, and often performed out of doors’ (OED), a ‘minor musical genre related to the serenade and divertimento’ (WP). This is a 19th century loan from German kassation, a term used since the second half of the 18th century for a ‘loosely assembled sets of short movements intended for outdoor performance by orchestral or chamber ensembles’, a genre that ‘was popular in southern German-speaking lands’ (WP). The origin for the musical sense of this word has been said to be Italian cassazione, for example by the OED, but this is by no means certain.[5]

English has another verb that is ultimately related to Lat. quassāre, namely one derived in Vulgar Latin from this verb by means of the prefix ex‑, i.e. *exquassāre. This verb made it into Old French as esquasser (also escasser) or esquacer (also escacier) (cognate with Italian squassare). English borrowed this verb from French resulting in Modern English squash, pronounced [ˈskwɒʃ], [ˈskwɔʃ], or [skwɑʃ], depending on the dialect. This verb has two major meanings, each one with additional subsenses (COED):

(1)  ‘crush or squeeze (something) so that it becomes flat, soft, or out of shape; squeeze or force into a restricted space’ = Sp. aplastar, chafar, espachurrar; and

(2)  ‘suppress or subdue; firmly reject (an idea or suggestion); silence (someone), typically with a humiliating remark’ = Sp. acallar, aplastar, etc.

From the verb squash a homonymous noun was created in English. Its most basic meanings are ‘the act or sound of squashing’ and ‘the fact or condition of being squashed’ (AHD). This noun is more common in British English and its Spanish translations would be: apiñamiento, agolpamiento, apretujón, or apretón.

The noun squash has also been the name of a sport since around 1900, namely ‘a racket game played in a closed walled court with a rubber ball’ (AHD). The sport’s name is derived from the name of the soft, rubber ball used in this racket game, squash ball, and it is an ellipsis for (British) squash rackets or (US) squash tennis (OED). Spanish has borrowed this English word for the name of the sport without any changes or adaptations: squash. The DLE advises us that this word should be pronounced ‘[eskuás]’ (according to María Moliner’s dictionary, it should be ‘[escuásh]’). Finally, let us mention that in Great Britain, the same noun squash is also the name of ‘a citrus-based soft drink’ (AHD). The OED tells us that since the late 19th century, this has been a short form for the compound lemon-squash.

Finally, note that this verb squash and the nouns derived from it are totally unrelated to the homophonous noun squash that means ‘a gourd with flesh that can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable’, as well as ‘the plant which produces squashes. [Several species and varieties of the genus Cucurbita.]’ (COED). This noun squash is a loanword from the Native American Narragansett language asquutasquash, borrowed in the 17th century, which is derived from the root asq that means ‘raw, uncooked’ and meant something like ‘vegetable eating green/raw’. The vegetable name translates into Spanish as calabaza.

Go to Part 16 (coming soon)

[1] The original says: ‘Derecho Particularmente, anular un *tribunal una *↘sentencia dada por otro. ⇒ Concuasar’ (MM).

[2] In María Moliner’s dictionary, the original says: ‘concuasar 1. (ant.) tr. Hacer pedazos ↘algo con un golpe. *Romper. 2. (ant.) Casar (*anular)’ (MM), and in the Academies’ dictionary: ‘concuasar 1. tr. Bol. casar (ǁ corresponder una cosa con otra). 2. ant. Quebrantar, estrellar, hacer pedazos’ (DLE).

[3] The original says: ‘concuasar. I. 1. intr. Pe, Bo, Py. Coincidir, ajustarse o cuadrarse una cosa con otra. 2. Bo. Coincidir dos o más personas en algo que se ha dicho o hecho’ (DA).

[4] The OED also tells us that there was a ‘Court of Cassation [French Cour de cassation], in France, the appellation of the supreme court of appeal, as having the power in the last resort to alter, or cancel, or quash (casser) decisions of the other courts which are wrong in form or law’ (OED)

[5] Wikipedia has a good summary of the speculations that have been made about the origin of the German term kassation: ‘The etymology of the musical term is uncertain. Mozart’s cassations K. 63 and K. 99 open with marches, and the term has been speculatively linked to the Italian word cassa, meaning “drum”. Hermann Abert was among those who thought that the term derives from the Italian cassare, meaning “to dismiss”, implying a musical farewell, or Abschiedsmusik. The French word casser (to break) was also invoked, based on the notion that the movements could be freely broken up into any order. A more likely derivation, reflecting the outdoor character of the genre, involves a transformation of the Austrian dialectal word gassatim: specifically, gassatim gehen was an expression commonly used by local eighteenth-century musicians to refer to street performance’ (WP).

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Eng. discuss and Sp. discutir, Part 14

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

This is Part 14. Go to Part 1

Words derived from Sp. quejar(se)

Sp. quejoso/a and its various synonyms

In addition to the nouns we just saw that were derived from the verb quejar(se), there are also some adjectives derived from this verb. The main one today is perhaps quejoso/a, which means ‘complaining, whiny, etc.’, as in No tiene por qué estar quejoso ‘He has nothing to complain about’ (AEIV). This adjective is not very common, however, at least in many dialects, and a more common synonymous sentence to the one just given would be No tiene de qué quejarse. Note that English also does not typically use adjectives to describe persons who complain, other than some disparaging ones, such as whiny, an adjective derived from the patrimonial verb to whine, one of whose senses is ‘to complain or protest in a childish fashion’ (AHD).

As usual, Spanish adjectives can typically be used as nouns and the adjective quejoso/a can also be used as a noun, at least in some dialects, with the meaning ‘complainer, person who complains’, as in de acuerdo a los quejosos ‘according to the people who complained’ (Oxford Spanish-English Dictionary = OSD). The term is not a positive or neutral one, but rather a negative and disparaging one. One dictionary mentions other English nouns that can translate the noun quejoso/a: fusspot, fussbudget, moper, grouch, curmudgeon, cry-baby, whiner, grouser, and griper (GU). Still, the noun is not very common, at least in perhaps most dialects.

There are various synonyms of the adjective quejoso/a, used mostly in colloquial Spanish. One of them is quejica, an invariant adjective meaning ‘whining, whiny’ or as ‘complaining, grumpy, querulous’ (AEIV), as in Juan es muy quejica ‘Juan is always complaining’. This adjective can also be used as noun and then it can translate as ‘moaner, grouse’ (AEIV), as in Juan es un quejica ‘Juan is a moper’. The word quejica is obviously derived from the stem quej‑ and an ending ‑ica, whose source is not clear. It is found only in a handful of colloquial words and its meaning is pejorative and derogatory. The most common such words are the following, all of them seem to be primarily nouns, though they can also be used as adjectives: lloricanoun crybaby, moaner; adj. whining’, from llorar ‘to cry’; cobardicanoun wuss, wimp; adj. wussy’, from cobarde ‘coward’; roñicaadj. stingy, miserly; noun scrooge, miser’, from the invariant roña ‘adj. stingy’ (the noun roña means primarily ‘rust’); acusicanoun tattletale, telltale’ (= chivato/a, soplón/a), from acusar ‘to accuse’; and abusica noun bully’, from abusar ‘to abuse’ (this last one is not found in any of the major Spanish dictionaries).

The other synonyms of the adjectives quejoso/a and quejica, which seem to be used in different dialects of Spanish to different extents, are the following: quejicoso/a, quejilloso/a, quejumbroso/a, and quejón(a).

Starting with quejicoso/a, María Moliner’s dictionary defines it simply as ‘quejica’ (MM). The Academies’ dictionary does give a definition, though, namely ‘that complains too much and mostly without cause’ (DLE).[1] Obviously, the adjective is derived from the adjective quejica by means of the adjectival suffix ‑os‑o/a (quejicos‑o/a).

As for the adjective quejilloso/a, the DLE tells us that it means ‘that complains too much’ (DLE). It would seem to be derived from the diminutive quejilla ‘small complaint’ of queja. María Moliner defines it in terms of another synonym: ‘quejón’ (see below).

The adjective quejumbroso/a is also not very common, and it is derived from an even less common verb, namely quejumbrar that the DLE defines as ‘to complain frequency and with little reason’ (DLE).[2] This verb seems to have been derived from the even less common noun quejumbre, derived from the noun queja by means of the suffix ‑umbre that we saw in the previous section, which is used to indicate quality or collectivity.

The last colloquial synonym of the adjective quejica, used in some dialects of Spanish, is quejón(a), formed with the augmentative suffix ‑ón(a) (quej-ón-a). Curiously, however, none of the major Spanish dictionaries has an entry for this adjective. Only María Moliner mentions it as an alternative to quejica, along with the other adjectives that were just mentioned, but even this dictionary does not give quejón its own entry.

Old Spanish also had the adjective quexado/a ‘angry, irritated, unhappy’, but that adjective is now obsolete, and no Spanish dictionary even mentions it. The DLE does have an entry for quejada, but we are told that this is an obsolete version of the noun quijada ‘jaw (bone’ (DLE: ‘the mandible of a vertebrate’), an unrelated word derived from Vulgar Latin capsĕum, derived from Lat. capsa ‘box’ (the source of Sp. caja ‘box’). Let us not forget, however, that as we mentioned earlier, the great etymologist Yakov Malkiel argued that the verb quejar was derived from this very word.

As we have seen, all the Spanish nouns used to refer to someone who complains are derived from adjectives and they are all disparaging terms to refer to individuals who complain too much and for little or no reason. Interestingly, no noun related or unrelated to the verb quejarse gives us a neutral term, even one that is equivalent to the English legal term (noun and adjective) complainant that as a noun means ‘a party that makes a complaint or files a formal charge, as in a court of law; a plaintiff’ (AHD). This legal term translates into Spanish as demandante, querellante, or reclamante. Note that English borrowed and adapted the noun complainant from French complaignant, a present participle that was also used as a noun, derived from the verb complaindre. This French verb, through its regular stem complaign‑ (cf. present complaigne) is the source of the English verb complain, borrowed in the 14th century. The original meaning of the English loan was ‘to bewail, lament, deplore’ (OED), a meaning that is now obsolete. The French verb is a reflex of Late Latin complangĕre ‘to bewail’, which was formed by adding the intensive prefix com‑ added to the Latin verb plangĕre ‘to lament, bewail’, originally ‘to strike, beat, beat the breast or head in sign of grief’ (OED). Curiously, Spanish did have a patrimonial cognate of this verb, namely complañir ‘to cry or to pity’, a verb that is now obsolete, but which is still found in major dictionaries such as the Academies’ or María Moliner’s. Not yet obsolete, though rare, is the related verb plañir that descends from Lat. plangĕre, which still has the same meaning that its Latin ancestor had. Slightly more common is the derived noun plañidera ‘hired woman mourner’ (MM: ‘a woman who was paid to attend and cry at burials’, equivalent to endechera, guayadero, and llorona).

[1] The original says: ‘quejicoso, sa adj. Que se queja demasiado, y la mayoría de las veces sin causa’ (DLE).

[2] The original says: ‘intr. Quejarse con frecuencia y con poco motivo’ (DLE). 

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...