I had to use the verb “Saudar” in a sentence the other day. I don’t use it often and I was surprised to find that in the present tense most of the conjugations put an accent over the U:
This looked a bit weird to this foreigner. The first syllable or Saudar is pronounced to more-or-less rhyme with “loud” but saúdo is more like sa-OOD-oh, so it isn’t just cosmetic, it changes the sound of the root of the verb.
Not only is this not how conjugations usually work, it made me wonder whether there was any link to the word “saúde” (health). I asked in the portuguese fórum, but now I think of it, I probably should have just opened wiktionary. Basically, yes, they are distant cousins.
Saúde is from the Latin word for health or safety: salus.
Saudar is from salutare, meaning to protect, or to save. Well, it’s a verb form, but salutare and salus are certainly linked.
So in other words, although they have different meanings, they come from the same basic Latin root, with the L disappearing and the T gradually getting worn away to a D. Disappearance of soft sounds like Ls and Ds, and conversions of hard sounds like T and P to softer equivalents like D and B are both fairly common paths for Latin words becoming portuguese. So Potere in Latin became poder in portuguese, Sapere became saber, Salire became sair, videre became ver and so on.
Incidentally, saudade sounds like it’s in the same sort of area. Is that another long-lost cousin of Saudar and saúde? No, it used to be spelled Soudade, but it’s spelling changed over the yeas. It actually comes from the Latin Solitatem, meaning it’s related to Solitude in English and Soledad in Spanish.