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Wizard
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Wizard
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September 5th, 2011 at 6:01:58 PM permalink
Then count me among those who misuses the term "false cognate" to mean what you describe as a "false friend." I might add my Spanish tutor and Bueno Entonces define a false cognate the way I do.

That is interesting about the "great" in Great Britain, I didn't know that. Here is a question for you. There are country names of Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and New Guinea. What does "guinea" mean in this context, and are they all referring to the same thing?
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Nareed
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September 5th, 2011 at 6:28:55 PM permalink
Quote: pacomartin

English "aye", Japanese "hai" and Cantonese "hai" mean the same thing and are pronounced in a similar manner. But they are "false cognates" because they have no common linguistic heritage.



I once read a story about an american in Tokyo who approached a man and asked "Excuse me, do you speak English?" The man answered "Hi" and nodded. So the american asked "Oh, hello. Can you tell me whether this is the train to Downtown Tokyo?" The japanese gentleman again nods and says "Hi!"

This gets the American into a vicious circle of missunderstanding, thinking the local kept saying "Hello," when he was saying "yes."

And that's why you always should know at least a little of the language of a foreign country before you visit.

Sort of back on topic, in a marketing class we were told a story of an advertising executive who translated a slogan more or less like "Avoid embarrasment. Use Parker Pens." BTW the brand may have been Cross or somethign else. anyway, the translation to Spanish was "Evite el embarazo. Use plumas Parker." I don't believe it for a minute, but it is a half-decent "aren't marketing types stupid" kind of story.

BTW In Spanish "Pluma" means pen but also feather. for once, though, you can see the relationship, as pens used to be made from feathers justa few centuries ago. I'll stand by for a lesson on the word, I think, "Quill."
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pacomartin
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September 5th, 2011 at 8:32:18 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Then count me among those who misuses the term "false cognate" to mean what you describe as a "false friend." I might add my Spanish tutor and Bueno Entonces define a false cognate the way I do.



Quick surfing around the web quickly finds a number of websites that agree with your statement, and an equal number that disagree. In any case if you are learning or translating a language the danger points are words that look and are spelled the same, but mean entirely different thing. Words with different etymologies are curiosities, and are significant only if you are studying the development of language.

The English word "much", and the Spanish word "mucho" have nearly identical meanings, but they are not cognates since they derived from entirely different backgrounds. Surprisingly "island" and "isla" are not derived from the same word, even though the meaning is identical. By the technical definition these words are "false cognates" but are not "false friends" since they lead to no confusion when you are reading the words.

"Molest" in English and "molestar" in Spanish are true cognates because they came from the same Latin word, but the cultures in the last half century have given the words two different meanings. Hundreds of years ago we might use them in the same way. But in today's society they are "false friends".

The phrase "false friends" is common in most languages. It is "amigos falsos" in Spanish, and "faux amis" in French.


Quote: Nareed

in a marketing class we were told a story of an advertising executive who translated a slogan more or less like "Avoid embarrasment. Use Parker Pens." BTW the brand may have been Cross or something else. anyway, the translation to Spanish was "Evite el embarazo. Use plumas Parker." I don't believe it for a minute, but it is a half-decent "aren't marketing types stupid" kind of story.



This sounds like a made up story. I think every Spanish student is told about this word "embarazo" almost immediately, so I doubt that it happened for real. The story about the Chevy Nova, where Nova is mistaken for "No Va" or "It doesn't go" is probably an artificial story as well. It's a lot like the British guy asking the American girl if he can "come around and knock her up in the morning". I suspect that is an urban legend.
Wizard
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September 5th, 2011 at 8:43:55 PM permalink
Palabra del día: ADVINAR

Today's word means to guess. I don't know if this qualifies as a cognate, but it is similar to word divine in English. Rarely do you hear anybody using divine to mean to guess something in English, it one of those poetic kind of words that nobody really uses in everyday speech. I don't think I've heard the word divine in that context since Johnny Carson last did Carnac the Magnificent.

A question for Paco is there a connection between the two uses of the English divine, meaning to guess and the other to be godly.

Ejemplo time.

Advino que hay lluvia manaña. = I guess it will rain tomorrow.
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pacomartin
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September 5th, 2011 at 9:02:58 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Here is a question for you. There are country names of Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and New Guinea. What does "guinea" mean in this context, and are they all referring to the same thing?



As far as I know the names all three countries and "guinea pig" are all the same word. The word is of uncertain etymology but may comes from the Berber term aguinaoui, which means "black".

Etymology is not an exact science, mostly because many words were spoken for a long time before they were written. Also for most of history, spelling was not standardized, so any word could have multiple versions in books.

"Great Britain" was derived from 'Britannia Major' used by a writer who lived from 1100-1155, so we know that he meant to distinguish it from 'Britannia Minor'. But it is guesswork as to where Britain or Briton came from. The most common guess is that it came from Pretani, or "painted ones"; perhaps a reference to the use of body-paint and tattoos by early inhabitants of the islands; but it may also derive from the Celtic goddess Brigid.

Nareed
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September 5th, 2011 at 9:09:13 PM permalink
Quote: pacomartin

This sounds like a made up story. I think every Spanish student is told about this word "embarazo" almost immediately, so I doubt that it happened for real.



I doubt pens and embarrassment are related in any way. Supposedly the ad, it was a print thing, showed a man with a leaking pen in his front pocket and a blue stain to match. But it seems doubtful.

Quote:

The story about the Chevy Nova, where Nova is mistaken for "No Va" or "It doesn't go" is probably an artificial story as well.



Sure is. I think around the time the first Nova appeared gas in Mexico was red and green, that is those were the names for them for some reason. but soon after they changed to Nova (regular) and Extra (premium). Now they're called Magna and Premium. Anyway, nova is a well-established word.
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pacomartin
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September 5th, 2011 at 9:16:19 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

A question for Paco is there a connection between the two uses of the English divine, meaning to guess and the other to be godly.



The latin word is addivināre and the was originally applied to soothsayers who "divined" your future and later applied to priests and to God and Jesus. So it means "to guess" but using a supernatural power. A conjetura or conjecture is more of a WAG (wild ass guess).

Yes, the words are conjugates.

The word "guess" is from an Anglo Saxon word that means to estimate or to appraise. There is less divine intervention as there is the idea of trying to shoot at a target.
Nareed
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September 5th, 2011 at 9:18:36 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Today's word means to guess. I don't know if this qualifies as a cognate, but it is similar to word divine in English. Rarely do you hear anybody using divine to mean to guess something in English, it one of those poetic kind of words that nobody really uses in everyday speech. I don't think I've heard the word divine in that context since Johnny Carson last did Carnac the Magnificent.



You hear it now and then. In any case, I think most people know what a divining rod is.

Quote:

Advino que hay lluvia manaña. = I guess it will rain tomorrow.



Not a very good example. Actually no one uses the language quite that way (you serial language abuser, you <w>). The English phrase translates better as "Creo que lloverá mañana," or "Me imagino que va a llover mañana."

Oh, "hay" is used in present tense. So for your example you should use "habrá." You may say "Adivino que habrá lluvia mañana," but that sounds too stilted.

Here are a few better ones:

Adivina que hay de comer = Guess what's for lunch

Adiviné la respuesta = I guessed the answer.

Adivinaste = You guessed right.

El objetivo de la ruleta es adivinar en que número va a caer la bola = The objective in roulette is to guess on which number the ball will land.

Wow. I haven't done this since junior high, when the Spanish teacher had us look up five words on the dictionary every day and write at least two examples of each.
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Wizard
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September 5th, 2011 at 9:48:55 PM permalink
Quote: pacomartin

As far as I know the names all three countries and "guinea pig" are all the same word. The word is of uncertain etymology but may comes from the Berber term aguinaoui, which means "black".



Regarding "guinea pig," I thought the pig was because when they brought them to Europe from South America the English thought they looked, and sounded, like pigs. The "guinea" is because they cost one guinea each.

By the way, is a guinea still a unit of money in Britain? If so, how many guineas are in a pound? Talk about getting off topic, sorry.
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pacomartin
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September 6th, 2011 at 1:11:43 AM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Regarding "guinea pig," I thought the pig was because when they brought them to Europe from South America the English thought they looked, and sounded, like pigs. The "guinea" is because they cost one guinea each.

By the way, is a guinea still a unit of money in Britain? If so, how many guineas are in a pound? Talk about getting off topic, sorry.



A guinea is officially 21 shillings where it was fixed in 1717, or £1.05 in decimal currency. It hasn't been a coin in 200 years when the relatively newly formed United Kingdom decided to go on the gold standard. As a unit it exists in horse racing and the buying and selling of rams.

I assume that the guinea is retained for sentimental reasons in horse racing. It has a built in 5% commission for the exchange of livestock.

I assume troy ounces are retained for precious metals for practical reasons because so many coins and bars exist that are minted as multiples of troy ounces that it would be impossible to start over.

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