“Llaves” and other vanishing consonants
Lately I asked:
Where did the ‘c’ go in llave (“key”)? It's from Latin clavīs…
Several readers wrote in with additional examples, and I spent a
for more. I don't claim hat this list is at all complete;
I got bored partway through the Wiktionary search results.
|Spanish ||English ||Latin antecedent
|llagar || to wound || plāgāre
|llama || flame || flamma
|llamar || to summon, to call || clāmāre
|llano || flat, level || plānus
|llantén || plaintain || plantāgō
|llave || key || clavis
|llegar || to arrive, to get, to be sufficient || plicāre
|lleno || full || plēnus
|llevar || to take || levāre
|llorar || to cry out, to weep || plōrāre
|llover || to rain || pluere
I had asked:
Is this the only Latin word that changed ‘cl’ → ‘ll’ as it turned into Spanish,
or is there a whole family of them?
and the answer is no, not exactly. It appears that llave and
llamar are the only two common examples. But there are many
examples of the more general phenomenon that
(consonant) + ‘l’ → ‘ll’
including quite a few examples where the consonant is a ‘p’.
Eric Roode directed me to
this discussion of “Latin CL to Spanish LL” on the WordReference.com language forums. It
also contains discussion of analogous transformations in Italian.
For example, instead of plānus → llano, Italian has → piano.
Alex Corcoles advises me that Fundéu often discusses this sort of
issue on the Fundéu web site, and also
responds to this sort of question on their
Twitter account. Fundéu is the Foundation of Emerging Spanish,
a collaboration with the Royal Spanish Academy that controls the
official Spanish language standard.
Several readers pointed out that although llave is the key that
opens your door, the word for musical keys and for encryption keys is
still clave. There is also a musical instrument called the
claves, and an associated technical term for the
rhythmic role they play.
Clavícula (‘clavicle’) has also kept its ‘c’.
The connection between plicāre and llegar is not at all clear to
me. Plicāre means “to fold”; English cognates include
‘complicated’, ‘complex’, ‘duplicate’, ‘two-ply’, and, farther back,
‘plait’. What this has to do with llegar (‘to arrive’) I do not
Wiktionary has a long explanation
that I did not find convincing.
The levāre → llevar example is a little weird. Wiktionary says
"The shift of an initial 'l' to 'll' is not normal".
Llaves also appears to be the Spanish name for the curly brace
}. (The square brackets are corchetes.)
Not related to Spanish
The llover example is a
favorite of the Universe of Discourse, because Latin pluere is the
source of the English word plover.
French parler (‘to talk’) and its English descendants ‘parley’ and
‘parlor’ are from Latin parabola.
Latin plōrāre (‘to cry out’) is obviously the source of English
‘implore’ and ‘deplore’. But less obviously, it is the source of
‘explore’. The original meaning of ‘explore’ was to walk around a
hunting ground, yelling to flush out the hidden game.
English ‘autoclave’ is also derived from clavis, but I do not know
Wiktionary's advanced search has options to order results by
“relevance” and last-edited date, but not alphabetically!
- Thanks to readers Michael Lugo, Matt Hellige, Leonardo Herrera, Leah Neukirchen, Eric
Roode, Brent Yorgey, and Alex Corcoles for hints clues, and
[ Addendum: Andrew Rodland informs me that an autoclave is so-called
because the steam pressure inside it forces the door lock closed, so
that you can't scald yourself when you open it. ]
[ Addendum 20230319: llevar, to rise, is akin to the English place
name Levant which
refers to the region around Syria, Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine: the
“East”. (The Catalan word llevant simply means “east”.) The
connection here is that the east is where the sun (and everything else
in the sky) rises. We can see the same connection in the way the word
“orient”, which also means an eastern region, is from Latin orior,
“to rise”. ]
[Other articles in category /lang/etym]