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Are there any towns in Spain whose names begin with a 'W'?
05 April 2021 @ 17:36

THOSE of you who already speak Spanish know this, but those of you who are still learning may not have realised the language has no words of its own beginning with a 'K' or a 'W'.

Where's this place with an unlikely name? (Photo: NeliOM/Wikimedia Commons)

If you don't believe us, check the dictionary – every entry starting with either letter is of foreign origin. In fact, these letters are barely used at all in any position in Spanish words; the 'K' can be found in some of more modern creation – okupa, or 'squatter', or okupar, 'to squat', uses a 'K' to differentiate it from ocupar, 'to occupy', or its third-person singular conjugation, ocupa; then there's bakalao, which is a type of 1980s' techno music, and the 'K' is so it does not get mixed up with bacalao, which means 'cod'.

Part of the Santiago pilgrims' route known as the Camino de Madrid (photo: Erazo Fischer/Flickr)

By contrast, the letter 'X' is used a lot – taxi, which is self-explanatory, or éxito, meaning 'success' (not 'exit', which is salida), or any other word with an ex- prefix which are instantly recognisable to an English-speaker. Words beginning with 'X' in the Spanish language are similar to those beginning with 'X' in English, such as xenófobo, xenófiloxilófono, xerografía, which you can probably work out for yourself, although they are much more abundant in the catalán family of languages such as valenciano, ibicuenco, mallorquín, menorquín, and catalán itself, making a 'ch' or 'sh' sound, and in galego, the Galician language, where the 'X' often replaces the 'J' (such as in Xunta, for 'Junta', its regional government) – a tongue which, otherwise, has strong influences of Portuguese.

So, why have you been learning to pronounce 'W' when reciting the alphabet in Spanish, if it isn't used? Well, apart from spelling out names or places in your own language if you need to, or reading out a full website address (www, etc), you'll also see that words 'borrowed' from other languages sometimes use it – indeed, no 'pure' Spanish word does – such as walki-talki, walkman, wadi, and so on.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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