The last post dealt with jardín/garden, which traces back to Germanic gart. The modern German word is Garten (German capitalizes its nouns, as English used to), which we recognize from Kindergarten, literally ‘children’s garden.’ Spanish and English have both borrowed the term, though in a clear case of throwing away the bathwater but making sure to keep the baby, Spanish often pulls the plug on the garten while not letting the kínder go down the drain.
Germanic gart developed from the Indo-European root *gher-, which meant ‘enclosure.’ Another descendant of that root was hortus, the Latin word for ‘garden’ and the forerunner of the synonymous Spanish huerto. Similarly, Spanish hortelano is ‘a gardener; a market gardener; a truck farmer,’ while hortaliza refers to ‘any edible plant grown in a garden.’ In fact the cultivation of a garden or orchard is known as horticultura/horticulture. Seemingly growing from the same root was the Roman family name Hortensius, whose feminine version has given us the personal name Hortensia/Hortense (with the English form coming through French). And speaking of gardens, we note that hortensia was an older name for what we now usually call a hydrangea.
© 2013 Steven Schwartzman