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Why and how has the word llama(s) 3 meanings?

  • (you) call
  • llama (the animal)
  • flame
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  • English is just a bad. How about "pine" the tree and "pine" the verb? Jul 16, 2014 at 9:31

2 Answers 2

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As to why, quite simple: three different etymological origins have resulted in the same word:

  1. The verb llamar comes from latin clamare
  2. The animal llama comes directly from a quechua word
  3. The flame llama comes from latin flamma

Latin consonant groups -cl-, -fl- and others (such as -pl-) have frequently evolved into -ll- in Spanish, so these evolutions are quite normal.

As for confusing, I don't think so. It is not easy to construct a sentence where a verb and a noun could be confused. The two nouns (the flame and the animal) might be confused, but their meanings are so different that, aside from jokes or especially constructed sentences, I don't think it is very likely to happen because the context would give away the real meaning.

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  • 8
    Llama «llama» la llama a la llama. :) Jul 15, 2014 at 13:11
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    In voseo-speaking countries like Argentina is even less confusing since the first case (you call) is pronounced "llamás" (different accent). Jul 15, 2014 at 17:15
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    As a side note, this can be used for puns. There was a series of ads for a phone company in the late 90's, called "la llama que llama" (it was about a llama that made prank calls, using equally bad puns) Jul 22, 2014 at 1:50
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    Actually even better. A la llama la llama la llama «la llama» Apr 19, 2016 at 21:20
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When the Moores ruled in Spain, they had lookout posts on hilltops and it is said that in times of trouble they could call aid from Africa in a matter of hours by lighting the flames on top of the lookout towers, hence the connection between flame and call in Spanish.

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  • Roger still does that. Apr 19, 2016 at 20:38
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    "it is said..." sounds very questionable. Do you have a citation to back it up?
    – Paul
    Apr 20, 2016 at 4:34
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    Absolutely not. As stated in other answers, they just come from similar unrelated latin words (flamma and clamare).
    – Gorpik
    Apr 20, 2016 at 7:32

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