Saturday, May 09, 2009


False Cognates
There are several words in Spanish that are similar in English, but have a different meaning. Here are a few examples:
• actually is similar to Spanish actualmente; however, actualmente is better translated with e.g. currently, as actually actually means in reality. Confusing, eh?
• embarrassed is not the same as embarazada. A translation for embarrassed could be apenado. In some situations it can be embarrassing to be embarazada, i.e. pregnant!
• realize should not be confused with Spanish realisar. When Mexican students use the English word realize, they normally use it meaning to say something like: to give an idea physical form. They mostly don't realize that realize also means that you become aware of something.
• approve is sometimes confused with aprobar:"Teacher, did I approve the exam?" aprobar means pass as in 'pass an exam', whereas approve means to agree to something.
• eventually is not the same as eventual(mente). Eventually could be translated with finalmente, as it means: in the end, in the long run. The Spanish cognate eventual is in meaning similar to English temporary or conditional.
• Mexican students often use the word career to refer to their studies (Spanish carrera):"When I finish my career, I want to go to United States (sic)". Career, refers to professional work. When you finish your career you'll be an old person!
• lecture is not the same as lectura. A lecture is a talk about a particular topic. A translation for lectura could be reading or simply text.
• apartment in Spanish is departamento; department is also departamento. Therefore it is understandable that speakers of Spanish frequently use department when referring to an apartment.
• Spanish speakers often confuse by and for in passive voice. The reason is that they use por and that looks and sounds like for.
• another 'false friend' is try with Spanish tratar, as in this sentence:"the movies tries with the problems of a strange man," or:"in business, you have to try with people." Again, the confusion is understandable. In Spanish you would use tratar in both cases; however, in English you might consider using is about and deal with respectively.
• Speakers of Spanish also tend to confuse win with ganar. Teachers frequently read or here things like:"They win a lot of money," instead of "They make/earn a lot of money." You win money in the lottery. Making or earning money refers to your salary/ income.
Now that we're talking about win, we should also mention the difference between win and beat. Here's how they should be used:
América beat Guadalajara 9-0! (beat the opponent)
América won the game (win the game)
• Politics/ Politician: When referring to the authorities, speakers of Spanish normally confuse Spanish politico(s) with English politics. A politician is a person who has a job in politics. Politician = politico. Politics refer to, say, the regulation of a country.
• Here's another good one: the other day I bought a bookcase and on the box it said: library with three shelves. Now, where's the mistake?
The problem is that library is not the same as librero. Look:
library = biblioteca
bookstore = libreria
bookcase = librero
• Compromise and compromiso aren't equivalents either. Compromiso should be translated with commitment. Compromise refers to making concessions to come to an agreement, a settlement.
• The word familiar exists both in English and Spanish; however, the meaning is completely different. Familiar in Spanish refers to a member of your family (in English you would use the word relative(s)). It's a noun. Familiar in English is an adjective and it means that you know something about something eg:
- Are you familiar with Shakespeare's work?
• The Spanish word cientifico is both noun (profession) and adjective. Therefore students often use the word scientific to refer to the person:
He is a famous scientific.
However, scientist should be used to refer to the person:
He is a famous scientist.
• Parents only refers to your father and mother.
parientes, on the other hand, refers to your extended family, cousins, uncles, aunts etc. Therefore, parientes is relatives in English.

I was quite disappointed because on Jessy and Jose Manuel came to class.
- Homework: I collected Jssy´s composition, grammar, units 78 and 79 and we spent a lot of time describing pictures.
- Grammar: A handout with adejectives ending in -ing and -ed to make sure you have undrestood the previous class. . quantifiers with a picture of supermarket on the blackboard and the kind of products found there, eg, butter, milk, cocoa, carrots, apples, meat, fish, bread to make out the differences between countable and uncountable nouns . We did a great deal of oral practice with descriptions ,questions and negatives.
More quantifiers in St. B. pg 90 sections a and b. Grammar Bank, pg 140 Rules and exercises
and your grammar books, units 83 and 84 . We also had a thorough look at units 67 and 68 to see more in detail countable and uncountable nouns.
- Homework: Workbook, pg 67 ,68. Grammar units 83 ,84

Only Mercedes and Neyla came to class , a thorough disappointment because I had to change the class plan . Anyway we devothed the whole class to speaking activities. First , picture description in detail and secondly a game to develop your fluency : they had a minute and a half to talk about the topic their dice fell on the board game. it was fun and good practice.