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Pranto and llanto, but not chanto
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Pranto and llanto, but not chanto On Portuguese etymology Ch/ll and pr/pl The Portuguese word pranto (favourite among authors of fado lyrics) is cognate with Spanish llanto (often heard in flamenco music), with French plainte and English complaint . I have known that for some years, but yesterday (4 Dec 2002) I suddenly realised that this is strange: Spanish ll usually corresponds to Portuguese ch, and Portuguese pr (as in praia) is usually pl (playa) in Spanish. So why is it different here? Why is the Portuguese word not chanto , or why isn't it planto in Spanish? Words with ll in Spanish that have ch in Portuguese quite often start with cl, pl or fl in Latin (and French). This interesting page by Michael Neuhold about how Latin developed into other Romance languages gives some examples of this: Von Latein zu den romanischen Sprachen . (The page is in German, but it is probably easy to understand even if you know no German, provided you have some knowledge of, or better interest in, Romance languages). Here are some other examples: Portuguese Spanish Italian French Latin pt es it fr la chamar llamar chiamare clamer clamare chave llave chiave clé, clef clave Chaves -- -- -- Aqua Flaviae chama llama fiamma flamme flamma chaga llaga piaga plaie plaga chover llover piovere pleuvoir plovĕre < pluĕre chorar llorar piangere? pleurer (plaindre?) plangere? choupo (metathesis!) pobo pioppo (metathesis!) peuple poplu, popŭlu Of the correspondence pt ‘pr' vs. es ‘pl' we can also find many examples. Some have fl in Latin (or in Germanic languages), one had cl in Greek. Portuguese Spanish Italian French Latin pt es it fr la praça plaza piazza place platĕa prancha plancha ?? planche planca prazer placer (dis)piacere plaisir placĕre prata plata ?? ?? platta prato plato piatto plat plattu Greek πλατύς praga plaga piaga plaie plaga branco blanco bianco blanc -- Germanic blank flecha & frecha ( arrow ) flecha freccia flèche -- French flèche < Franconian fleuka fraco flaco ?? ?? flaccu flauta & frauta (flute) flauta flauto flûte -- Old-French flaute < Middle-Dutch flute < Middle High-German flöute freguês (client, parishioner) ?? ?? ?? filius ecclesiae igreja (church) iglesia chiesa église ecclesĭa Greek εκκλησία frota (fleet) flota flotta flotte -- Scandinavian floti frouxo flojo ?? ?? flūxu Latin words that contributed twice With the example of the Latin word plaga it starts getting interesting: it occurs twice, and led to pt chaga (wound) and also to pt praga (curse, calamity). So maybe this is part of the group of words that entered the language twice, in two different periods? Other cases in which this happened: Portuguese Portuguese Latin Greek pt pt la gr madeira (wood) matéria (matter) materĭa mezinha (household medicine) medicina (medicine) medicīna cabedal (capital, leather) capital (capital) capitāle genro género genĕru primeiro (first) primário (primary) primarĭu macho (male animal) másculo (male) mascŭlu contador (counter) computador (computer) computāre olho (eye) óculos (glasses; Dutch bril) ocŭlu raio (ray, beam) rádio (radio) radĭu frágua (forge; intense heat) fábrica (factory) fabrĭca grota (grotto, cavern) cripta (crypt, vault) crypta κρύπτη segredo (secret - noun) secreto (secret - adjective) secrētu fogo (fire) focus (focus, focal point) focus dedal (thimble) digital (digital) digitāle adega (wine cellar), bodega (tavern) apoteca apothēca αποθηκη seta ( arrow ) sagitário sagitta artelho (ankle) artigo, artículo (article) articŭlu tripular (to man, provide with a crew) interpolar interpolāre (change) I found many of the words that appear in the table above (but not the last five) in section 77 of the book "Basisgrammatica Portuguees", which I also mentioned here . Now back to ch/ll vs. pr/pl again Some Latin words with initial pl produced two Portuguese words, with related meanings; in one case even three: Portuguese Portuguese Latin Greek pt pt la gr chato (flat) prato (plate) plattu πλατύς chata (flatboat) prata (silver) platta, plattu -- praça (square) platĕa πλατεῖα chaço (tool) -- platu, platĕu chaga (wound) praga (pest) plaga cheio (full) preia-mar (high tide) plenamare / pleno chantar (to plant), rechantar (move a plant to a different location), chanta (twig for planting), chantão plantar (to plant), prantar (to plant, to put) plantāre choupa (fish) garoupa (other fish) clupĕa chão porão ( < Old-Portuguese prão) plānu So why Spanish llanto is pranto in Portuguese, not chanto, I still do not know. It could have existed, but doesn't . I found one case of the reverse situation: Portuguese chumbo (lead) is plomo in Spanish, not llumbo or llumo. That is, I don't find any such word in my small dictionary. Italian regularly has piombo for this. When Google-ing for Spanish llumbo, I found this related link . Addendum, April 2003: I received a hint, that prumo also exists in Portuguese, it means plumb bob, plummet, lead . PS. April 2003: I received a helpful comment from Brazil, that the word chanto does exist. It is listed in "Dicionário etimológico Nova Fronteira da língua portuguesa" by Antônio Geraldo da Cunha. The word means lament, wailing, mourning . It is even in a dictionary I have myself, and already had then: Michaelis pt-en . I simply didn't properly look it up before! To make up for my stupid oversight, the word is marked obsolete. PS. November 2007. I happened to find a Latin word – tabula – that led to four different words in Portuguese. tala tábua tabla (via Spanish) tábula Copyright © 2002-2011 by R. Harmsen . Latest updates 5 and 10 December 2002, 19 February 2006, 29 November 2007. 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