Sometimes, even though Spanish and English share compounds and derivatives of a word, English lacks a basic version of the word. That’s the way it is with vivir ‘to live’ and vivo ‘alive’: there is no matching English *vive, but both languages have revivir/revive, sobrevivir/survive, and vivificar/vivify ‘to make come alive,’ along with the adjectives vívido/vivid and vivaz/vivacious. We’ve borrowed Latin vivarium ‘a place for live game, a fish pond, a preserve’ as vivario/vivarium ‘an indoor enclosure for studying animals in semi-natural conditions’; by natural development Spanish has the doublet vivero ‘a fish farm, plant nursery.’ With Latin parere ‘to bring forth,’ the parent of Spanish parir, we have vivíparo/viviparous ‘bearing live young.’ A similar Latin vivipera got contracted to vipera, which was ‘a type of venomous snake believed to bear live young rather than lay eggs’; that is the source of víbora/viper. And expectant human parents who look up the origins of names may choose Viviana/Vivian for a baby girl that they hope will grow up to be lively.

© Steven Schwartzman


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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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