Somebody recently requested the word Spaniard, and I'm glad they did, because it gives me an excuse to talk about one of my favorite etymological processes, metathesis (when sounds in a word are swapped around). The term was first used in English around the start of the fifteenth century, when it was spelled Spaignarde. Later spellings included Spaynard, Spaynnarde, Spainierd, and Spayneyarde, and it wasn't until the mid-sixteenth century that the palatal glide before the letter n got fully moved to the second part of the word due to natural pronunciation mistakes. Unsurprisingly, the demonym comes from the equivalent of the word Spain in Old French, Espaigne, and that comes from Ancient Greek Hispania, with the same definition. Finally, it's thought that Hispania comes from a Phoenician word meaning "land of the hyraxes", a small groundhog-like mammal.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.