Spanish summer is etymologically out of whack

Today, June 21, marks the official end of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. (Here in central Texas, which for over a month has been visited with afternoon temperatures in the high 90s or increasingly even triple digits, the end of spring has heeded an advanced calendar of its own.) In this blog’s post about primavera ‘spring’ we saw that the word developed as a feminine version of Late Latin primo vero ‘in the first part of the spring.’ The original Latin ver ‘spring’ must have extended into what we now call ‘summer,’ which explains the need to distinguish the first part of that extended period from the latter part. For those later and hotter months Spanish uses verano, which began as a Vulgar Latin adjective based on the original ver. Also from ver came the adjective vernalis ‘having to do with the spring,’ which has given the synonymous English vernal, as in the vernal equinox that separates spring from winter. As an adjective corresponding to the new summery sense of verano Spanish could no longer use vernal, so it created veraniego ‘pertaining to the summer.’ Because the heat during the hottest months can be debilitating, veraniego has added the sense ‘becoming sickly or mentally unstable in the summer.’ From verano Spanish has also created the verbs veranar ‘to spend the summer [anywhere]’ and veranear ‘to take a summer vacation away from home,’ as well as the noun veraneo ‘a summer vacation.’

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Watching Seasons
    Jun 27, 2011 @ 16:10:34

    Interesting how words create webs of meanings.

    Reply

  2. Steve Schwartzman
    Jun 27, 2011 @ 18:11:48

    And Daniel Webster (in America) tried to untangle those webs of meanings in his dictionary.

    Reply

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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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