Monday, October 5, 2020

Eng. discuss and Sp. discutir, Part 12

[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 12. Go to Part 1

Words derived from Sp. quejar(se)

Sp. queja, quejumbre, and quejazón

There are several nouns that have been derived in Spanish from the verb quejar over time. The main one is the noun queja [ˈke.xa], which means primarily ‘complaint’ and ‘(the act of) complaining’ in Modern Spanish, though it can also mean ‘moan, groan (from pain)’, for as we saw, the verb quejarse, from which the noun queja descends, also has the meanings ‘to moan, groan’ in addition to the main meaning, which is ‘to complain’.

Old Spanish had a masculine quexo [ˈke.ʃo] in addition to feminine quexa [ˈke.ʃa] from which modern queja developed, with the same meaning. But note that Old Sp. quexo/quexa meant something a bit different from what its descendant queja means today, just like the meaning of modern quejarse is different from the meaning the source-verb quexar had (see above). The old meaning of quexo/a was something like ‘affliction, grief, anguish, distress, pressure, ailment, predicament, etc.’. One common expression with this noun (collocation) is no tener queja de alguien ‘to have no complaints about somebody’, as in De ella no tengo queja ‘I have no complaints about her’. Another expression is presentar/interponer una queja ‘to lodge/register/file a (formal) complaint’.

There were other nouns derived from the verb quexar in Old Spanish that referred to the act of complaining/moaning, namely quexedat and quexumbre (DCECH). The noun quexedat, which would have turned into Modern Spanish quejedad, with the suffix ‑dad, seems to have all but disappeared and it is not to be found in any Spanish dictionary. The noun quejumbre, formed with the suffix ‑(d)umbre, is actually still found in Spanish dictionaries, though it is very rare in Modern Spanish. The DLE defines it as ‘frequent and mostly unwarranted complaining’ (DLE).[1] Most Spanish-English dictionaries do not have the word quejumbre, which is not surprising since it is so rare. One that does is the Granada University Spanish-English Dictionary, which translates it as kvetch, pronunced [ˈkvɛʧ] or [kə.ˈvɛʧ], a word (verb and noun) that English has borrowed from Yiddish kvetshn ‘to squeeze, complain’, from Middle High German quetzen or quetschen ‘to squeeze’.

It seems that in Honduras and perhaps other parts of Central America, one hears the word quejazón, with a meaning similar to that of quejumbre, namely ‘frequent complaints, groan, wine’ (Wkt). This word, however, cannot be found in any of the major Spanish dictionaries, including the Academies’ one (DLE) or María Moliner’s (MM). It is obviously derived by addition of the ending ‑azón, ultimately derived from Lat. ‑ā‑t‑ĭōn‑em, used to derived nouns from verbs typically with a sense of intense action of the verb (Sp. ‑azón is a patrimonial variant of the semi-learned suffix ‑ación, as in comparación, from comparar). This suffix is found in words such as hinchazón ‘swelling’, from hinchar ‘to swell’; picazón ‘itch, irritation’, from picar ‘to itch’; and ligazón ‘link, bond, connection’ from ligar ‘to tie, bind’.

[1] The original says: quejumbreQueja frecuente y por lo común sin gran motivo’ (DLE). This suffix was originally ‑(i)tumbre in Old Spanish (cf. costumbre ‘custom’, from Vulgar Lat. *cōnsuētūmen/*costūmen, from Lat. cōnsuētūdĭnem, accusative form of cōnsuētūdō ‘custom, habit’, a noun derived from the rare verb suēscĕreintrans. to become used or accustomed to; trans. to accustom, habituate’), from an earlier Vulgar Latin *‑tumne, from *‑tumine, from Lat. ‑tū‑d‑ĭnem, the accusative form of the ending ‑tū‑d‑ō. This Spanish suffix is a doublet of the learned suffix ‑itud, e.g. altitud ‘height, altitude’, amplitud ‘width, spaciousness, aplitude, etc.’, and it is found in only a few words inherited from Vulgar Latin: certidumbre ‘certainty’, from cierto/a ‘true’ (more common: incertidumbre ‘uncertainty’); mansedumbre ‘meekness, docility, tameness’, from manso/a ‘tame, docile’; muchedumbre ‘crowd’, from mucho/a ‘much’; and servidumbre ‘servitude’, from siervo ‘serf, slave’. One word was formed in Spanish by analogy with these words, namely pesadumbre ‘grief, sorrow’, from the noun pesar ‘sorrow, regret, etc.’, derived from the homonymous verb pesar ‘to be heavy; to weigh’.

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