Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

Word Mystery: mirror / espejo / Spiegel

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Wednesdays, I explore the linguistic origins of one word in different languages.

I recently saw Disney’s SLEEPING BEAUTY for the first time and was significantly blown away by how beautiful it is. The background images are very stylized and I love them. I wish I had wallpaper of some of the forest scenes so that I could sleep surrounded by weird ferns and gnarled trees.


Besides being stunning to look at, the story is well told and not at all annoying (unlike Disney’s SNOW WHITE which I can’t get through because Snow’s voice makes me want to tear my ears off). Also fun: finding a Word Mystery in the looking glass!

EN → mirror — a reflective surface, now typically of glass coated with a metal amalgam, that reflects a clear image. ORIGIN from Old French mirour, based on Latin mirare [look at].

ES → espejoTabla de cristal azogado por la parte posterior, y también de acero u otro material bruñido, para que se reflejen en él los objetos que tenga delante. [Glass piece which is silvered on the back (also steel or other brushed metal) so that objects placed in front of it are reflected.] ORIGIN Latin specŭlum.

GR → SpiegelGegenstand aus Glas oder Metall, dessen glänzende, glatte Fläche Bilder, optische Erscheinungen zurückwirft. [An article of glass or metal which reflects back the shiny, smooth surface of photo optical phenomena.] ORIGIN Latin specŭlum.

Spanish note: this is one of the most oddly worded definitions I’ve come across. I usually waver between semi-literal translations and ones that read better, but this one kind of stumped me. Even in Spanish I think it reads badly. Loses just because it offended me on an aesthetic level.

German note: I’m more than a little disappointed that this shares the exact same root as Spanish. I wonder how many Latin words root German ones? Will have to look into this.

German note Zwei: I don’t speak German. I only know this word because it’s printed on the side of my mirror.

Today’s winner is English since I love the Latin meaning.

⇒ See more backgrounds from SLEEPING BEAUTY by clicking here or here.

Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

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