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June 07, 2021


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"I’ve outlasted The Former Guy by many, many Scaramuccis." Yes. You have words. Yet, former guy doesn't need them to persist.

¡Felices quince, corazón! Por muchos más.

I have often wondered why, in Spanish, five is cinco and fifty is cincuenta—with initial C—but fifteen is quince and five hundred is quinientos, with initial Q. The Latin origins of those five-ish words all start with Q (five is quinque). Maybe a Spanish-etymology expert will read this and five-splain me.

IANAE, but I can help with that, and it goes beyond Spanish all the way to Vulgar Latin, which didn't like the repeated /kʷ/ in quinque and had turned it into cinque /ˈkin.kʷe/. That's why you also have French cinq, Italian cinque, Romanian cinci, etc.

The same happened to quinquaginta (which gave cinquaginta and eventually cincuenta) but not to quintus, quincedim or quingenti, who kept their initial labialisation.

This seems to have been just a more advanced stage of a process that was already happening in Classical Latin, which had turned pre-Classical *quoquo ‘to cook’ into coquo.

Thanks, Susan! Thanks, Alon!

Nancy, congratulations!

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