EP word of the week (#75): amnistia

To continue a discussion on broader issues that affect many people all over the word, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the Portuguese word for amnesty, which brings to mind the idea of freedom, and especially the work of Amnesty International, an organisation among many dedicated to bringing to light situations of human rights abuses throughout the world.

The thing is, even here EP and BP have their differences :) As you can see below, EP keeps the word similar to English (also just like the Latin/Greek word it derives from), making it [a] amnistia. In this case, you should make a syllable break between the m and the n, pronouncing both as fully fledged consonants /m/ and /n/ (that is, without any nasal sounds). This is sort of an exception to the larger rule, which is explained by the accommodation of the original Greek consonant clusters (the same process happens with ps, for example in [a] psicologia, psychology; and with other words with Greek origin with -mn-, like [a] mnemónica, mnemonic device).

In BP however, the word lost its m, becoming [a] anistia; the same process of language simplification helps explain the word Netuno (Neptune). What it doesn’t explain is the number of other words in a similar situation that don’t suffer any changes, including the two examples I gave before – [a] mnemônica suffers a change on the o, but as you know that’s a different rule – and a series of other words like [a] sinapse [synapse] or [a] amnésia [amnesia].



In any case, now know another word with Greek-Latin origins that changes its spelling and pronunciation between the two variants; if you can think of others and would like to share them with everyone, please do so in the comments.

See you next week!

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