Continuing with our contra/counter theme, we look at Spanish contrarreloj. An English speaker who knows that reloj, one of the rare Spanish words ending in –j, means ‘a clock,’ may still be hard-pressed to figure out the sense that the added contra gives to the compound. In sports, a contrarreloj is ‘a time trial,’ because an athlete is racing, as English also phrases it, ‘against the clock.’

[Note that the  -rr- spelling in the middle of contrarreloj is necessary to preserve the trilled nature of the single r– at the beginning of reloj, which gains its trill by virtue of being the first sound in the word.]

© 2010 Steven Schwartzman


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  1. Trackback: reloj « Spanish-English Word Connections

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If you encounter an unfamiliar technical term in any of these postings, check the Glossary in the bar across the top of the page.
©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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