1. mjscott Senior Member

    Things like "Kiddiendo" for "Kidding"
    ¡Me está puchando! for "He's punching me!"
    Me voy en la baica, for, "I go on my bike"

    All of the above are examples of Spanglish. But they take the form of a false cognate--a situation where a word sounds like it should translate straight across, but it either doesn't, you're stuck with people who don't understand you, or at worst you offend people and reply by telling them how "embarazada" you are by offending them.

    Words that just don't fit into the formulaic morphing them into another foreign language by adding an (-ed), etc. are called false cognates. They sound like they should go through some sort of pattern--an in/out box, if you will--and that what you put in comes out as a Spanish word, but, alas! It doesn't always work. Besides these false cognates not really working in our language, we don't just keep it to ourselves. We (should, at least) urge communicators graciously to the fact that they can't keep saying they love naked men (instead of peaches--duraznos) in front of your Great Aunt Mary's Bridge Club that comes over on Thursday night. When you are commenting on how you're going to invite Aunt Mary over to your neck of the woods for a visit, because your cama is her cama, (when you meant to say, 'casa,')--upon catching your slip, what do you call a false cognate in Spanish?
  2. Henrik Larsson Banned

  3. belén

    belén Ex-Moderator

    Spanish, Spain, Catalan, Mallorca
    Hi Mj

    Actually, I don't think that saying "un raite" for "a ride" and "lonchar" for "to have lunch" are false cognates, but plain Spanglishing.

    If when English words are turned into Spanish hibrids is also called "false cognate" is something I don't know.

    To my knowledge, and as you also mention in your post, false cognates are the words that are similar in English and Spanish but have a very different meaning, for example:

    Constipada - constipated
    Actualmente - actually
    Discussing - discutir

    There is an interesting thread talking about that, here is the link:


    As per what it is called in Spanish, I believe it is called "falsos amigos", although there is probably a more precise term that I haven't been able to find yet.
  4. Whisky con ron Senior Member

    Venezuela / Español
    Se dice "falso amigo". En francés es "faux ami".

    De acuerdo con Belén, una cosa es un "falso amigo" y otra es Espanglish. (Nunca entendí por qué escriben "Spanglish", si precisamente es una mezcla de los dos y tiene mas sentido "ESpanglish"... but hey!).
  5. belén

    belén Ex-Moderator

    Spanish, Spain, Catalan, Mallorca


    Igual Spanglish es en inglés y "espanglish" en español ;)
  6. mjscott Senior Member

    Thank you all for your contributions. You are right with my choice of posts, Belen. I was mixing Spanglish and false cognates. If someone had said in Spanish "false friends," I would never have known what they were talking about! And--how difficult for the moderator to parse a thread! It seems you can't discuss a vocabulary word without it becoming cultural--I love it.
    Thanks again.
  7. Riverdoc Senior Member

    Ukiah, California

    Hola Foreros,

    "Cognado falso" es un "cognado verdadero". ¿Verdad?

  8. supercrom Banned

    Cercado de Lima, Lima, Perú
    Homo peruvianus, practising AE n' learning BE
    Los falsos cognados son palabras que aparentemente tienen el mismo significado y forma (a veces provienen del mismo origen), por ejemplo actual (Eng.) y actual (Esp.), dinero (Esp.) y dinner (Eng.), idiom (Eng.) e idioma (Esp.), fabric (inglés) y fábrica (español), y otras más.
    En cambio, hay palabras que son cognadas como pintar y paint, haber y have, etc. algunas se originan por el léxico que el latín proporcionó a esta lengua germánica.
    Muy aparte está el encuentro (tal vez conflictivo, quizá degenerativo) de amabas lenguas llamado espanglish, Spanglish (o inglañol :), así como portuñol) que usa algunas palabras indiscriminadamente: deletear (delete) u otras... (ahora no me acuerdo muy bien) .

  9. mjscott Senior Member

    Aren't those cognates? I thought cognates were things like doctor, and actual. I thought false cognates were words that look like they translate directly, but don't; such as,
    embarazada means pregnant--not embarrassed.

    Is it the other way around?
  10. garryknight Senior Member

    Kent, UK
    UK, English
    They're still cognates as they come from the same root. Different meanings emerged in the everyday use of the words.
  11. Riverdoc Senior Member

    Ukiah, California
    Hola mjscott,

    I actually I was trying to make a joke, or be a bit of a smart alec. Yes, "cognato falso" is a true cognate, but actual/actualmente are false cognates meaning current/currently, while real/realmente mean actual, real/actually, really-something that took me several years to keep straight, and use automatically.


    P.D. How do you say "smart alec" or "smart-ass" in Spanish? Realmente, pienso en hacer esto como otro hilo en un mensaje separado.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 1, 2011
  12. amigo21 New Member

    California, usa
    Mexican Spanish
    habra alguna mejor traduccion para "false cognete" en espanol mexicano
  13. JeSuisSnob

    JeSuisSnob really, reeelly mod!

    Mexico City
    Mexican Spanish
    Bienvenido al foro, amigo21. :)

    Por favor usa mayúsculas, acentos y signos de interrogación cuando haya que hacerlo (la regla 11 lo establece claramente):

    Las convenciones que yo he escuchado, amigo21, son "falsos amigos" y "falsos cognados".

    Un saludo.
  14. trafernolio Member

    Argentinian Spanish
    Yo también he escuchado el término "falsos amigos".
  15. Zapped New Member

    English - Scotland
    Hello, my first post :)

    In fact, "Embarrassed" and "Embarazada" are false friends, but they are not false cognates. They are true cognates, because, even though they have completely different meanings, they come from the same 'root' (barra, in vulgar latin).

    An example of a false cognate is between English "much" and Spanish "mucho". They are almost identical and have similar meanings, but this is pure coincidence. "Much" comes from Old Germanic "micel", whereas "mucho" comes from Latin "multus".

    Another surprising false cognate between Spanish and English is "island" and "isla".

    When translating, or learning a language, it's important to be aware of false friends, but knowledge of false cognates is not really needed, unless you're delving into the realms of etymology.

    De hecho, "embarrassed" y "embarazada" son falsos amigos, pero no son falsos cognados. Son verdaderos cognados, porque, aunque signifiquen cosas muy distintas, vienen de la misma 'raíz' ('barra' en latino vulgar).

    Un ejemplo de un falso cognado es entre "much" en inglés, y "mucho" en castellano. Son casi identicales y tienen sentidos similares, pero este es pura casualidad. "Much" viene de la germánica 'micel', mientras "mucho" viene de la latina "multus".

    Otro falso cognado sorprendente es entre "island" e "isla".

    Para traducir, o aprender un idioma nuevo, es importante tener en cuenta los falsos amigos, pero conocimientos de falsos cognatos no estan precisos, a menos que estés tratando de la etimología.

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