1. Joe Tamargo Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    United States English
    This is a hard one: (Esta es una pregunta dura:)

    What is the difference between a tortoise and a turtle? (¿Cuál es la diferencia entre las palabras turtle y tortoise?)

    What is the difference between tortuga, galápago and carey? (¿Cuál es la diferencia entre las palabras tortuga, galápago y carey?)

    I always thought that a tortoise lived in the sea and a turtle on land, but now I don't know. Are they all interchangeable? (Siempre creía yo que un tortoise viviera en el mar, y un turtle en la tierra, pero ahora yo no sé. ¿Son todas intercambiables?)
    Could some sea turtle out there explain it to me and correct my Spanish?
  2. Magg Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish
    Well, I'm not a pro on the subject, but I'd say it's the opposite, turtles live near the water.

    Hope an animal lover helps you. I'm not completely sure.

  3. Edwin

    Edwin Senior Member

    Tampa, Florida, USA
    USA / Native Language: English
    Parece que Magg tiene razón:

    According to the following websites turtles are aquatic and tortoises are land-dwelling. (That's why the story is about the tortoise and the hare and not the turtle and the hare. :) )

  4. Artrella Banned


    turtle an animal which lives in or near water and has a thick shell covering its body into which it can move its head and legs for protection

    tortoise an animal with a thick, hard shell that it can move its head and legs into for protection. It eats plants, moves very slowly and sleeps during the winter.

    Bye Joe!!!

    Art :) ;) :p
  5. Philippa

    Philippa Senior Member

    Britain - English
    Carey seems to be a the name for a Hawksbill turtle (my favourite as we saw a hundred babies that had recently hatched in Barbados :) ) see:

    Galápago seems to be a freshwater turtle with webbed or partly webbed feet - see 4. TORTUGAS DE AGUA DULCE (GALÁPAGOS) in:
    Tortuga seems to be the generic term.

    I've been trying to understand the classification but the naming is fiendishly complicated even in English look (from Encarta):
    In Britain the name turtle is restricted to marine species, terrapin to freshwater species, and tortoise to the terrestrial members of the order. In American usage, the name turtle is more widely applied; tortoise is used additionally for certain terrestrial species belonging to the first suborder. In Australia all freshwater species are known as tortoises.

    Oh well, I like them all :)
    Hope this helps a bit. Maybe you're best off asking a question in a turtle foro if you want an expert's answer!!
  6. Joe Tamargo Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    United States English
    Thanks, Philippa, yours is the best answer.
    Artrella, I still say it has to be yo creía (I used to think). I have to check whether a question can be dura in Spanish, as well as difícil.
  7. sanchopanza Member

    USA English
    Zoology aside, on the subject of Spanish, the WordRef dictionary gives “tortuga” as the translation for both tortoise and turtle. Just as “foca” and “lobo marino” mean “seal” and “sea lion” respectively, (even though most people don’t care about the difrerence) I SUSPECT THAT there are different terms in Spanish. If anyone knows the answer, please advise.
  8. sanchopanza Member

    USA English
    Apparently, I was wrong. Parece que me equivoque. Per the Dictionary of the Real Academia Espanola on-line (http://www.rae.es/)
    (Del lat. tardío tartarūchus, demonio, y este del gr. tardío ταρταροῦχος, habitante del Tártaro o infierno, porque los orientales y los antiguos cristianos consideraban que este animal, que habita en el cieno, personificaba el mal).
    1. f. Reptil marino del orden de los Quelonios, que llega a tener hasta dos metros y medio de largo y uno de ancho, con las extremidades torácicas más desarrolladas que las abdominales, unas y otras en forma de paletas, que no pueden ocultarse, y coraza, cuyas láminas, más fuertes en el espaldar que en el peto, tienen manchas verdosas y rojizas. Se alimenta de vegetales marinos, y su carne, huevos y tendones son comestibles.
    2. f. Reptil terrestre del orden de los Quelonios, de dos a tres decímetros de largo, con los dedos reunidos en forma de muñón, espaldar muy convexo, y láminas granujientas en el centro y manchadas de negro y amarillo en los bordes. Vive en Italia, Grecia y las Islas Baleares, se alimenta de hierbas, insectos y caracoles, y su carne es sabrosa y delicada.

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