It’s very human to adapt things to our culture, to our way of seeing the world.
No matter our place of birth.
We all do it.
Admit it, you have adapted foreing songs to your own language … so have I.
Like the majority of Spaniards, as a child I tended to add “-tion” to Spanish words to make them sound English.
So if I wanted to say “notebook”, I’d say “cuadernation” (the Spanish word for notebook is cuaderno). And that is! I already spoke English 🙂
This way, it’s not surprising to feel excited when finding “similar” words between two languages.
For instance, in the English-Spanish pair: education-educación, intention-intención, similar-similar, satisfaction-satisfacción or tiger-tigre.
Things are not that easy, anyway.
Many of these words can be tricky!
And they can lead to funny misunderstandings.
Imagine asking a Spanish-speaking person if they like “tuna” and having “yes, I love their music” as an answer…
What? Do Spanish tunas play music?
Do they dance flamenco under the sea?
Not at all.
In Spain, a tuna is a group of music composed by university students dressed up in a specific and traditional way.
But they can also provoke embarrassing situations…
And the word “embarrassed” is a great example itself!
Maybe, you see a Spanish-speaking student feel embarrassed and, in a nice attempt to make her feel closer to her culture, you ask her if she is “embarazada”.
Imagine her shocked face about your interest in discovering if she is pregnant…
Don’t lie to me!
In linguistics, these similar words having different meanings are called false friends and false cognates.
As an education specialist working with Spanish-speaking communities, you might want to make students feel more comfortable and try to use words and expressions in their language.
For this reason, I want to help you identify the ones you should avoid so your attempt does not fail 🙂
And to begin with, I’m focusing on vocabulary often used in learning contexts.
Here we go!
|SPANISH WORD||ENGLISH FALSE FRIEND/|
|TRUE MEANING||TO LEARN MORE|
|Colegio||College||School||College in Spanish: facultad, universidad|
|Escolar||Scholar||School kid or related to school (adjective)||Scholar in Spanish: investigador|
|Profesor||Professor||Teacher||Professor in Spanish: catedrático|
|Carpeta||Carpet||Folder||Carpet in Spanish: alfombra|
|Lectura||Lecture||Reading||Lecture in Spanish: conferencia, clase|
|Carrera||Career||University degree||Career in Spanish: trayectoria profesional, profesión|
|Librería||Library||Bookstore||Library in Spanish: biblioteca|
|Tópico||Topic||Cliché||Topic in Spanish: tema|
|Recordar||Record||Remember/Remind||Record in Spanish: grabar|
|Resumen||Résumé||Summary||Résumé in Spanish: CV|
|Discutir||Discuss||To have an argument||Discuss in Spanish: debatir|
|Vacancy||Holidays||Vacancy in Spanish: vacante, puesto libre, plaza libre|
As you can see, similarities sometimes can cause misunderstandings and our attempt to make communication easier can fail.
So I hope this information helps you to better reach and communicate with your Spanish-speaking students, colleagues or families within your education community.
And of course, if you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to ask me! I’ll be more than happy to help.
Now tell me…
Have you ever used any of these words with an incorrect meaning?
Have you experienced any embarrassing/funny situations?
What did you do?
I can’t wait to know about your experiences!