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A more obvious linguistic link? Maybe not…

by Alex on May.06, 2009, under Blog

Writing that last blog got me athinking of a conversation I had the other day with one of my Spanish teachers.

Spanish for horse is caballo, and for gentleman is caballero. Shirley the etymological link is obvious? It should be yet more obvious when you consider that a shoe is zapato and a shoe maker slash mender slash vendor is a zapatero. Bread is pan and a baker is a panadero, meat is carne and a butcher carnicero, and so forth. So to form the noun describing the guy (or gal) who has something to do with an object you make a root from the object and add an ‘ero’-based suffix (or ‘era’ for females).

Yet, when I suggested that caballero came from caballo, I was met with a laugh and told that caballero has nothing to do with caballo. Odd!

I’m not sure if uniquely my Spanish teacher just didn’t know that one was born of the other, or had simply never given it any thought. I’ll ask around so as to get a consensus…

So I asked the manager of the language school and he also laughed. I just asked a guy in the interweb place and he knew the connection and that it was originally equivalent to the English word ‘knight’. So the latest score for the question ‘does caballero have anything to do with caballo’ is:

I laugh in your face: 2
It comes from the word ‘knight’: 1

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