The worst of boredom is to listen to the dreams of others, the worst of rudeness is to force others to listen to them, but nobody is forced to read, by writing.
One night a strange character appeared to me and told me what follows. To be precise, he was writing all this and I was reading over his shoulder. And for even greater precision, he wrote in a “universal” alphabet and language, I shouldn’t have understood, but I understood all the same, perfectly. It was vivid and bizarre.
“…en un plazo infinito le ocurren a todo hombre todas las cosas”. J. L. Borges
Continue reading “My First Thousand Years of Hell”
As you might have noticed if you study Spanish, most of the words that we encounter in this language have some sort of “related word” in English: beber (to drink) has beverage, sentir (to feel) has sentiment, etc.
English is so vast, that it has words coming from all over the world, and being aware of this feature can help you to rapidly improve your level when studying almost any foreign language… certainly, Spanish.
Sometimes, the related word we look for is evident; other times, it is more hidden (“hecho” is related to “fact”); sometimes, the meaning of the related word is more close to the original, in other cases, it is more distant. In some occasions, similar words are not related at all (in meaning or origin… nor both), and we call them “false friends” (Spanish “sin”-without- is not related to the English concept of “sin”, Spanish “red” is not a color, as “pie” is not related to cakes, etc.) It is also wise to be aware of them and spare ourselves an embarrassing situation; as it could happen if you ignored that “embarazada”, the most famous example, in Spanish, does mean “pregnant”, not “embarrassed”.
In any case, the important thing is to make observations and connections that can help us to remember and retain vocabulary and, in some cases, even enhance the one we use in our own language.
Here, from my years of teaching in a US High-School, I selected 100 cases where a word in Spanish has a more or less evident correlation to one or more in English.
In order to help fast visualization, in bold red color the Spanish word, next to it is its meaning, and in the next line a more or less detailed explanation and the word (sometimes the group of words) that are related to it in English. When there is more than one option I selected the one that I consider more closely related to the Spanish original. Where I did not use colors the subject is more general than referred to one single word.
Continue reading “Over 100 Useful Correspondences between Spanish and English Words”
Knowing the Greek (and Latin) provenance of words we still use is very helpful when it comes to improving language skills and studying other languages because they are shared all over Western Culture and even inside the entire Indo-European family. It is also a wise idea to know them since all their numerous compounds become immediately understandable.
On this subject, I decided to create my own file, since the options I saw here and there were never really satisfactory. So, here are some Greek origin words we use in English, grouped by initial root.
This list is loosely organized in alphabetical order.
The word listed in brackets () contains the same Greek element but not at the beginning of the term.
The specific meaning of each singular word is for the reader to find out; it will be a fine and fun game, all the necessary knowledge is provided hereafter but inside the [ ] sometimes I provided the literal translation of an original composite word.
The three periods (…) mean that there are significantly more English words that share that particularly prolific Greek root (such as “cata”, “bio”, “auto”, “psycho”…) you can try to find the missing ones.
Of course, this list is NOT exhaustive, on the contrary, is very laconic and terribly incomplete, but it was conceived as an introduction to the study and analysis of language for high-school students. Furthermore, I decided to realize it only recalling words by means of memory; this, in order to prove how embedded the Greek language, is in our minds and speaking skills. I limited anatomy, numbers, chemistry, botany, medical terms, and any specialized vocabulary that relies almost exclusively on Greek, to the essential. Which left out interesting roots such as: telos “the end, fulfillment, completion”, phyll-, word-forming element meaning “leaf,” from Greek phyllo-, etc. but we cannot have it all, I guess.
Who is interested in the topic can easily enhance the list with a simple search on the web; while collecting more items, the knowledge, and understanding of English will definitely increase significantly.
The abbreviation PIE stands for: Proto-Indo-European. All the red text explanations come from Etymological Online Dictionary. When I considered it opportune I simplified the text or interpolated new data.
At the moment, there are 153 clusters and 400 different Greek-origin words.
Continue reading “A Few Greek Origin Words in English for High-School Students”
Let’s learn from this tragic misadventure! Let’s put all our suffering to good use! Continue reading “A Better Europe”
This is a collection of words compiled while giving Spanish language classes in High School. By now, there are 152 entries; I will keep updating the content according to new “discoveries”.
In GREEN the Spanish word
In RED: its English false friend
*** Indicate a fundamental Spanish word
** Indicate an important word
* Indicates a less used word, still fun to include, and worth of consideration Continue reading “A Collection of Spanish False Friends, for English Speakers (and vice-versa)”
Water taken in moderation cannot hurt anybody.
(An odd ode to Beer) Continue reading “To Beer, or not… To Beer!”
A world still young and turbulent, pale and soft, the engorged full moon drips of its too abundant custard; it trickles into a clear oriental sapphire sky, shaping its violet tasting crystallized blue caramel with bright new yellow yolk stars. Continue reading “Prehistory of Gominola”
I had never liked tattoos, and I never wanted them, but not for religious reasons based on the absurd prohibitions of the King James Bible, Leviticus 19:28, Corinthians 6: 19-20, Revelations 19:16, and so on. I am not religious. On the contrary, I am an atheist and a humanist. I simply did not understand their meaning, nor see their attraction, and why one would decide to paint himself like that, spending big money on it! It is paying for an indelible stain, indelible, yet at the same time, fading after a few years. Plus, once they became fashionable, I began to really hate them with the intensity that characterizes me in everything I do and think. Continue reading “The Tattoos Collection”
I normally do not like/indulge-in profanities, but I love languages, in all their parts, so let’s go on with this topic that, though it may appear an exaggeration, is an important one, that even allows a glimpse of Italian culture. Continue reading “A Guide for the Usage of the Italian word: “Cazzo”, for English Speakers (With a Brief Final Note on Italian Blasphemy)”
Maybe just a few -but more likely no one else- were more ingenious than the one who liked to call himself: “the man who makes things contrariwise,” or the “retropoietic man”, or the “inversafacitor” and other wacky names typical of Classical construction and tradition.
He liked to propose himself as an alchemist, inventor, visionary, artist; completely unknown is his identity, though. Continue reading “The Man Who Enjoyed Making Things ǝƨiwiяaяtиoↃContrariwise”