As a followup to my earlier entry on the construction “boring of the task” and the Language Log entries by Mark Liberman linked therein, Mark has posted Horror and boredom in Castile, a summary of Christopher J. Pountain’s paper “The Castilian reflexes of ABHORRERE/ABHORRESCERE: a case-study in valency“:
The basic observation is that Latin abhorrere started out meaning “to shrink back from, have an aversion for, shudder at, abhor”, but one of the Spanish descendents, aburrir, wound up meaning “to bore”. So not only did the meaning change, but also the “valency” (in the sense of which verbal arguments go where). “I abhor you” turned into “you bore me”.
The original paper has several useful diagrams showing semantic ranges, and Mark reproduces the one showing the historical development in Castilian.
I would also like to second the recommendation in Mark’s more recent post for Pountain’s book (coauthored with R. E. Batchelor) Using Spanish: A Guide to Contemporary Usage. It’s part of a Cambridge series (of which I also have the German volume by Martin Durrell), and it’s extremely well done, with lists of “misleading similarities,” fields of meaning, complex verbal expressions, and the like, all with careful attention to register and geographical restrictions. (I assume, by the way, that Pountain rhymes with fountain, but if anyone knows for sure, please comment.)