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Friday, November 09, 2007


In a technical sense, two words that have a common origin are cognates. Most often, cognates are words in two languages that have a common etymology and thus are similar or identical. For example, the English "kiosk" and the Spanish quiosco are cognates because they both come from the Turkish kosk.

Cognates often have a similar meaning, but in some cases the meaning has changed over the centuries in one language or another. An example of such a change is the English word "arena," which usually refers to a sports facility, and the Spanish arena, which usually means "sand." They both come from the Latin harena, which originally meant "sand" and came in time to also refer to an area of a Roman amphitheater that was covered with sand.
Spanish retained the meaning of "sand" (although the word can sometimes refer to a sports arena), but English expanded the word's meaning to include facilities something like the Roman amphitheater.

In a popular and less technical sense, the term "cognate" also is used to refer to words in two languages that are similar but have no common origin, such as the Spanish sopa (meaning "soup") and the English "soap."

Also in a popular and not technical sense, the phrase "false cognate" is used to refer to cognates that have different meanings, such as the Spanish molestar (to bother) and the English "molest" (to abuse sexually). A more precise term to use for such word pairs is "false friends."

Here we have the most common false cognates:

acre: sharp, sour
acre: acre, unidad de medida

actual: current, present time
actual: real, verdadero

asisistir: to attend, to help
to assist: ayudar, asistir

atender: to pay attention, to take care of
to attend: asistir a, cuidar

carpeta: file folder, portfolio
carpet: alfombra

carta: letter
cart: carro, carreta

cigarro: cigarette
cigar: puro

colegio: high school
college: universidad

conferencia: lecture, meeting
conference: junta, sesión, entrevista, conferencia

contipado: to suffer from a cold
constipated: estreñido

costumbre: custom
costume: vestuario, traje

chocar: to hit, crash
to choke: ahogar, sofocar

desgracia: misfortunte, mishap
disgrace: deshonra, verguenza

desgraciado: unfortunate, unlucky
digraced: deshonrado, avergonzado

deshonesto: immodest, indecent
dishonest: engañoso, falso

dirección: address, direction
direction: dirección

disgusto: quarrel, annoyance, disgust
disgust: hastío, asco, disgusto

distinto: different, clear, distinct
distinct: claro, visible, diferente, distinto

embarazada: pregnant
embarassed: avergonzado

equipo: team, equipment
equipment: aparatos, equipo

equivocación: error, mistake
equivocation: equívoco, subterfugio, engaño

éxito: success
exit: salida

explanar: to level, grade
to explain: explicar, aclarar

fábrica: factory, mill, structure
fabric: tela, textura

falta: shortage, lack
fault: culpa

frase: sentence
phrase: expresión, frase

grande: large, big, great
grand: magnífico, grandioso, grande

honesto: decent, pure, virtuous, reasonable
honest: honrado, integro, recto, sincero

idíoma: language
idiom: modismo

largo: long
large: grande

lectura: a reading
lecture: conferencia

liar: to tie, bind, roll up
liar: mentiroso

media: stocking
media: medios de comunicación

parientes: relatives
parents: padres

realizar: to fulfill, achieve
to realize: darse cuenta de

recordar: to remember
to record: grabar

repente: start, sudden movement
to repent: arrepentirse

ropa: clothes
rope: soga, cuerda

ruin: vile, mean
to ruin: arruinar, estropear

sano: healthy, sound, whole
sane: cuerdo, razonable, sano

sauce: willow
sauce: salsa, condimento

sensible: sensitive
sensible: razonable, sensato

simpático: nice, agreeable, pleasent
sympathetic: compasivo

sopa: soup
soap: jabón

suceso : event, incident
success : éxito

taller : workshop, laboratory, studio
taller : más alto

vaso : glass
vase: jarron



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