Although the adjective eterno/eternal is familiar enough, the corresponding verb is less so; to eternizar/eternize is ‘to make eternal.’ As an example of Spanish usage, take these lines from the prologue to The English Translator, by Mariano Cubi i Soler, published in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1828:

“Carecemos absolutamente de obras que nos guien con acierto en el estudio de este idioma [el inglés], coestenso con los limites de la civilizacion humana, i eternizado por las obras que en él se han escrito.”

(“We are absolutely lacking in works that can guide us with certainty in the study of this language [English], coextensive with the boundaries of human civilization, and made eternal by the works that have been written in it.”)

In that same year, 1828, Noah Webster published his An American Dictionary of the English Language, which included this entry for eternize:

1. To make endless.
2. To continue the existence or duration of indefinitely; to perpetuate; as, to eternize woe.
So we say, to eternize fame or glory.
3. To make forever famous; to immortalize; as, to eternize a name; to eternize exploits.

The online Merriam-Webster Dictionary tells us that eternize “shows up in the works of literary greats, such as John Milton, Edmund Spenser, and Herman Melville, and it sees occasional use in modern-day sources, but it is far from common.”

A reasonable person might think that a language would be content with one version of an uncommon word. That is true of Spanish with regard to eternizar, but it isn’t true of English, which has turned to eternal and from it has created eternalize alongside eternize.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: This is the forest primeval « Spanish-English Word Connections
  2. Trackback: each and ever each « Spanish-English Word Connections

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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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