Thursday, September 28, 2017

Alcazar & All That

Close, but no plátano

Fun bits while improving my Spanish-

Years ago I learned the the word pato. It's the name of a Stan Getz song from his bossa nova days. It means duck (the noun, not the verb) in Portuguese and Spanish.

Yesterday I saw the word pavo in a food context. Pavo, pato, not so different. Could it be a bird that one eats? Can't be chicken, that's pollo (like poulle in French, pullet and poultry in English). So maybe it's turkey. Checked later, yep, turkey it is. Nice.

And some kind of food called uvas. Sounds like ovum, Latin for egg. But eggs are huevos. Umm...grapes? Yes! More nice.

A small store in Spanish is a tienda, literally a tent or booth. A big store is an almacen. I kept thinking that almacen was Arabic (starts with al, a big hint) and that it was familiar to me in an etymological sense, that there were words like it in English, but I couldn't quite nail them down. Then I got it: macen is like magazine, a storehouse, a warehouse, a protective place. Al-macen is the-storehouse. And the m- would be the prefix that takes a verb and makes it into the thing that does the verb: jihad/fight; mujihad/fighter. Or adding -ador to a Spanish verb, e.g. matar, to kill; matador, killer. Checking this morning to confirm, yes, almacen is Arabic. The base triliteral (3-letter) root is h-z-n, to protect. So protector would be m-h-z-n with vowels filling in as needed between the consonants (this is way simplified by an amateur). The protector then is al-mahzan (the plural is al-mahzin, like mujihadin) From almahzan/almahzin the West gets almacen in Spanish, magasin in French, magazzino in Italian, Magazine St. in New Orleans, etc.

Also nice.