Last week I began a post with the plural of aficionado, a word that English borrowed from Spanish. By its form we see that aficionado, now a noun, began as (and still is) the past participle of aficionar ‘to make [someone] keen [about something],’ a verb often used reflexively. The source of this verb is ultimately Latin afficere, for which Lewis and Short’s A Latin Dictionary gives this definition: ‘to do something to one, i. e. to exert an influence on body or mind, so that it is brought into such or such a state.’ Notice the to do in that definition: Latin afficere was a compound of ad ‘to,’ the predecessor of Spanish a, and facere ‘to do,’ the ancestor of Spanish hacer.

Spanish created aficionar not directly from Latin afficere but from its own noun afición, which had been based on the Latin noun stem affection- that has entered English as affection and has given Spanish the afección that stands as a doublet alongside afición. An aficionado is someone who has a certain “affection” for doing something—and that’s certainly an affective realization for anyone who is an aficionado of words (where affective means ‘resulting from the emotions’). And while the English noun affect is a fancy word for ‘feeling, emotion,’ Spanish afecto is a normal word that corresponds to the equally normal English affection that I’ve already dutifully if not affectionately mentioned.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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