Language Oddities: the spanish word “compromiso”

My world view was changed by a single Spanish word.

I was studying Spanish using the DuoLingo app. I had to translate a Spanish phrase to English using a provided list of words. The phrase contained the word “compromiso;”but the list had “commitment” rather than “compromise.” I immediately started digging into the etymology of these words. That’s how I stumbled across this blog.

(As an aside to the author of the blog: I accidentally liked and commented your post from a WordPress account I have failed to maintain. Or rather, I meant to like and comment, but not from that account.”

Blue Space

This is something that has bugged me for a long time.  The spanish word for “commitment” is “compromiso.” This leads to many native spanish speakers, upon trying to translate their thoughts into english, saying things like “I’m sorry I have to leave early, but I have a prior compromise.”

The difficulty is that the spanish word for “compromise” is also “compromiso,” something I didn’t actually realize until just a few days ago. In english, “commitment” and “compromise” are two totally distinct concepts, but to spanish speakers, they are apparently linked.

How could this be? It appears that the word “commitment,” or “commit,” derives from the latin “com,” meaning “together”, and “mittere,” meaning “to send.”  The suffix “ment” turns the verb into a noun (specifically an act or process.) Similarly, the word “compromise” breaks down into “com,” meaning together, and “promittere,” or “to…

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