Latin Language Blog

To work Posted by on Dec 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

For those of you who speak a latin language, such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc. it might be familiar the word (in Spanish) “trabajo“, (Portuguese) “trabalho“, (in French) “travail“…

For this post I will take as an example the Spanish version, but any other of the mentioned languages’ word for “work” has the same etymology.

The word “trabajo” (work) comes from the verb “trabajar” (to work), and this verb comes from the Latin verb “tripaliare“. Tripaliare derived from “tripalium” which meant “three sticks”. A tripalium was a yoke made with three sticks which were tied to slaves to beat them as a way of punishment.

As you can observe the relation between the word “trabajo” and “tripalium” has something to do with suffering. In ancient times they started to use the work “tripalium” to describe any activity which implied physical pain in the body. In that time, most part of the population worked in agriculture and farming, that means that they had to do big physical efforts so in the end of a working day people felt as if they had been beaten.

The relation between working and pain is also evident in another Latin origin word: “labor“, which (in English) means both work and giving birth (a pretty painful situation).

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