October 9th, 2009


Forming words in English and Spanish

Spanish (and maybe other Romance languages; I haven't really looked) seems to like to make nouns out of past participles more than English does. Los descamisados, los desaparecidos, enchilada, ensalada, and so on. (That last one is another bit of Roman cooking influence on Romance languages. Romance languages' words for "liver" don't come from the Latin word for liver, but from the Latin for fig--because the Romans cooked liver with figs. Similarly, they put salt on their salads; "ensalada" is literally "salted".) On the other hand, I sat around and tried to think of English examples: newlywed and newborn--has anyone used "reborn" as a noun?--were the only ones I could think of.

Another thing Spanish does that I don't see in English is gluing together verb and direct object to make a noun, e.g. "chupacabras", literally "it sucks goats". English would, and I think does, use "goatsucker". Anyone know of other Spanish examples?
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