to know

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Nizo, Jul 14, 2007.

  1. Nizo Senior Member

    Esperanto has two words for the English “to know”: koni and scii. The first means something like “to be acquainted with” and the second has to do more with knowledge of facts. Their use is similar to the French connaître/savoir, Spanish conocer/saber, and German kennen/wissen. I'm wondering how many other languages have these two different forms, or something similar. What about in your language? Thanks.
  2. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    In German, können, having the kennen as a causative (to make können), can also be used for "to know" in the latter sense:

    I don't know German. = Ich kann kein Deutsch.
  3. Marga H Senior Member

    In Polish: koni - znać, scii - wiedzieć.
  4. Lopes

    Lopes Senior Member

    Dutch (Amsterdam)
    In Dutch it's kennen (conocer) and weten (saber)
  5. su123

    su123 Senior Member

    Baix Empordà
    In Catalan:

  6. Alijsh Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    We have also two different words in Persian:
    koni - shenâkhtan
    scii - dânestan
  7. deine Senior Member

    Lithuania - lithuanian

    conocer - pažinti
    saber - žinoti
  8. Lugubert Senior Member

    This resembles a paper I once read on dictionary searches, titled “Synonyms and synonyms of synonyms”.

    My 68 page Esperanto-Swedish “dictionary” from 1897 gives sci = veta, no koni.

    Connaître= känna [till] (know (of), be acquainted with); förstå (comprehend), kunna (master [a language etc.], be able to)
    Savoir = veta, känna till; få veta (get to know); kunna; förstå.

    (I just realized that I own no dictionary from Spanish into Swedish, so I won’t try via English or German for conocer/saber.)

    Kennen = känna, vara bekant med, känna till
    Wissen = veta, förstå, kunna

    One route not involving Swedish has to be mentioned: German kennen, wissen = Bible Hebrew yāda` ידע, the infamous KJV ‘know’. I’m convinced that the word when used in the Sodom story means no more than the normal ‘get to know, get acquainted with’. - For können, there’s yākhol יכל ‘be able to, know how to’.
  9. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    deine's contribution makes me wonder if Latvian zināt and pazīt are to make the same distinction as between French connaître and savoir.

    Japanese does not distinguish between knowing people and obtaining information — shiru applies for both senses. Noteworthy is that shiru has the sense of Biblical "know" (it took me a while to realise not every language has this connotation). Its use in this sense is as rare as that of ידע in Modern Israeli Hebrew; well-understood but limited to a few set phrases.
  10. language_gig New Member

    Morocco, USA, Arabic, English
    Savoir (French) = to know something
    Connaître (French) = to know someone

    Arabic = "Arafa" عرف: to know someone (in most cases)
    Arabic= علم "Alima" : To know something (in most cases)

  11. DrWatson

    DrWatson Senior Member


    Finnish does have this distinction, and I'm quite sure it's similar to German, for example.
    If you're acquainted with someone, you use the verb tuntea, which also means "to feel".
    Minä tunnen hänet = I know him/her

    When you have knowledge of certain facts, you use the verb tietää.
    Minä tiedän vastauksen = I know the answer
    However, tietää can also be used in the former meaning in such instances, where you know the person, but he/she doesn't know you, e.g. when talking about celebrities.
    Tiedätkö näyttelijän uudesta TV-sarjasta? = Do you know the actor in the new TV series?
  12. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member


    koni: bilmek, tanımak
    -Beni tanıyor musun?
    -Beni biliyor musun?
    (Do you know me?)

    scii: bilmek
    -Yemek yapmayı biliyor musun?
    (Do you know how to cook?)
  13. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Why is it similar to German? :confused: We'd always use kennen in your examples.
  14. karuna

    karuna Senior Member

    The planet Earth
    Latvian, Latvia
    I don't know French but indeed it is close to Spanish saber/conocer. But no so much about distinction of persons vs. things but rather the difference between recognizing, be familiar with vs. be knowledgeable about facts.

    Both zināt and pazīt are perfective verbs, so to express the process of obtaining information imperfective derivatives are used: uzzināt and iepazīt.

    Biblical "know" is translated as atzīt in Latvian but it is not used in this sense apart from the Christian context. Probably it was the Bible translator's invention.
  15. DrWatson

    DrWatson Senior Member

    In all of them? Well, I did say I was quite sure :D i.e. not entirely. I was just trying to establish my point about the nature of the distinction, and since I know neither Spanish nor French I used German in my example. Which turned out to be a little wide of the mark :eek:. Apparently German uses kennen in a broader spectrum than I had imagined.

    Anyhow, my point was that there is a distinction. Not similar to German, perhaps, but still.
  16. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    In case you're interested, here are my translations:

  17. Laztana

    Laztana Senior Member

    Aachen y a ratitos Bilbao
    Spain, Spanish and Basque
    Hi, in basque:

    ezagutu = conocer
    jakin = saber
  18. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    That is a more accurate description of the distinction between the two words in Spanish, too.

    Portuguese is just like Spanish:

    koni: conhecer
    scii: saber
  19. irene.acler Senior Member

    Trento - Italy

    koni: conoscere
    scii: sapere
  20. DrWatson

    DrWatson Senior Member

    Well, if it helps, I can give you direct Finnish to German translations. Helps to clear out the ambiguity by not using English as a medium. Personally I would have translated Minä tiedän vastauksen with wissen. To say Minä tunnen vastauksen sounds weird, like in English if you asked: "Are you familiar with the answer?"

    The most common translations are below, but the context has to be taken into account, of course.

    tuntea = kennen, fühlen (sometimes also spüren)
    tietää = wissen (sometimes kennen)

    I'll give one more example of the differences, although it is hard to try to do it with a few examples. But this time I think I came up with good ones:

    Tiedätkö saksan kielen? =
    Do you know German? (Do you know that there exists such language?)
    Tunnetko saksan kieltä? = Do you know German? (Are you familiar with the language?) The latter could also be Osaatko saksaa?, which clearly asks if one has knowledge of German (in German: Kannst du Deutsch?). The way using tuntea is kind of a mild way of asking, like asking if you know anything about it.
  21. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Interestingly, we differentiate between these two know's, too:

    Do you know there exists a language like German?
    Kennst du Deutsch?

    Can you speak German?
    Kannst du Deutsch?

    You can't use wissen with languages, except in a more verbose construction, such as:

    Do you know something about German?
    Weißt du etwas über Deutsch?
  22. Wynn Mathieson

    Wynn Mathieson Senior Member

    Castell-nedd Port Talbot
    English - United Kingdom
    Irish has three nouns which are used in constructions corresponding to use of the verb "know" in English.

    In characteristic Celtic fashion these are used in periphrases of the type "I have knowledge of" for "I know", the "I have X" in turn being paraphrased as "X is at me" (Irish being without a verb "to have".


    Aithne is recognition of the identity and character of a person or place, etc. (acquaintanceship)

    Tá aithne ag gach duine ar a chéile
    There-is acquaintanceship at each person on his fellow
    They all know each other


    Eolas is knowledge acquired through personal study, practice, etc. (learning)

    Níl eolas agam ar aon tír atá gan bunreacht
    There-is-not knowledge at-me on any country that-is without a-constitution
    I do not know of (I have not discovered) any country that does not have a constitution


    Fios is knowledge derived from what you have been told (rule-based knowledge, traditional wisdom).

    Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil daoine ann a deir:
    There-is its knowledge at-me that there-are people in-it who say:
    I know that there are people who say:

    Níl a fhios ag aon duine
    There-is-not its knowledge at any person
    Nobody knows


  23. noncasper

    noncasper Senior Member

    Chino - China - Hong Kong
    In Vietnamese:
    Saber : Quen
    Conocer : Biết
  24. OldAvatar Senior Member


    to know = a şti
  25. macta123 Senior Member

    In Hindi : Janana, pata hona/maloom hona
    For ex. Tum Rakesh ko jantey ho ? = Do you know Rajesh ?
    For ex. Kya tumhe uska pata pata/maloom hai

    Recognize is Pehchanana
  26. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    In Russian "to know" is similar to the English usage: "знать" (znat') means both kennen/wissen (German), connaître/savoir (French), etc. So is the Japanese 知る [shiru] or it's other form 知っている [shitte iru].

    In Chinese we have 知道 [zhīdao] and 认识 (s.) / 認識 (tr.)[rènshi], which basically correspond to kennen/wissen or connaître/savoir pairs.
  27. barbiegood Member

    Hungary and hungarian
    In Hungarian:

    to be acquainted with: "ismerni"

    For example: Do you know Peter? (Are you acquinted with him?)
    "Ismered Pétert?"

    to know: "tudni" (it may also mean to be able to do something)

    For example: I know how to bake bread.
    "Tudom, hogy kell kenyeret sütni."
  28. karuna

    karuna Senior Member

    The planet Earth
    Latvian, Latvia
    In this context when referring to personal faculties or abilities the verbs prast or mācēt is used in Latvian instead of zināt/pazīt.

    Do you know Spanish? – Vai tu proti spāņu valodu?
    I know how to bake bread. – Es māku cept maizi?
  29. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Although English only has one verb for "to know", you should still say "Can you speak Spanish?" ;)
  30. karuna

    karuna Senior Member

    The planet Earth
    Latvian, Latvia
    Thanks for correction.
  31. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    I think you can also use the auxiliary when the verb means "to can" ,"to be skilled in": 中文 ta1 hui4 shuo1 zhong1 wen2 ( he can speak Chinese)

    In French

    When Language Gi writes that "savoir" is related to something and "connaître" to someone, he is right on the whole in the sense that actually "savoir" is never used with an animated object.
    On the other hand "connaître" may have to do with something : "He knows the road very well" is said "Il connaît très bien la route" and "Il sait très bien la route" would sound weird. If you turn "He knows German / his lesson" into French, both verbs are possible : "Il sait/ il connaît l'Allemand/ sa leçon", but if you add the auxiliary "can" or "be able to", you have to choose "savoir": "Il sait parler Allemand" ( He can speak German ).

    Kannst du Deutsch ? = Sais-tu / connais-tu l'Allemand?
    Kennst du Deutsch ? = Connais tu l'Allemand ? ( Without a context the sentence is ambiguous )

    I think the practical way to use them properly rather depends on what follows the verb than its accurate meaning ( "savoir" is rather "to have learnt" ) :

    1- connaître + noun (or personal pronoun: le, la, les )
    2- savoir + infinitive or any clause (il sait qui/ce que/ où/ quand/ pourquoi etc...) or the neuter personal pronoun "le".
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2018
  32. theo1006 Senior Member

    Salatiga, Indonesia
    koni: mengenal
    scii: mengetahui
  33. HistofEng Senior Member

    New York
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    In Haitian-Creole:

    two forms depending on the phonetics of the phrase and/or the preference of the speaker

    to know= konn and konnen

    knowledge = save or konesans
  34. brian

    brian Senior Member

    AmE (New Orleans)
    Latin had tons upon tons of words for "to know." I'll limit myself to three:

    scio [infinitive scire] (cf. Esperanto scii)
    (cog)nosco [infinitive (cog)noscere](cf. Esperanto koni)
    sapio [infinitive sapere] (cf. Italian sapere, Spanish saber)

    What's interesting is that French, Spanish, Italian, Catalan, Portuguese, etc. seem to have clear equivalents mainly to the Latin cognoscere and sapere, but does there exist in any of those languages a word derived from scire? In Esperanto, however, you mentioned one word related to cognoscere and another related to scire, so I wonder, does there exist yet another word in Esperanto related to sapere?


    EDIT: Just thought of the obvious words science, scienza, ciencia, etc., all of which come from sciens ("knowing"), the present active participle of scire, but those aren't verbs...
  35. OldAvatar Senior Member

    As I said, in Romanian, a şti, ştire (to know) is from Latin scire.
  36. kusurija

    kusurija Senior Member

    Lithuania, K. city
    Lithuania Czech
    koni: znát
    scii: vědět
  37. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungarian - Hungary
    Hi everybody,
    I don't know about you but I was suspicious from the very beginning that it is not the sort of question one cannot answer simply. (In any case, such a thing rarely happens with languages...)
    But it is interesting to see that all come down to the same thing: you cannot reduce a language just to equivalents in the dictionary. The actual use can modify a lot. I give you two examples with the Hungarian:
    tud (savoir), ismer (connaître) - used in two sentences that could have the same meaning:
    - Tudod, mit akarok tenni? (Do you know what I want to do?/Sais-tu ce que je veux faire?)
    - Ismered a szándékomat? (Do you know my intentions?/Connais-tu mes intentions?)

    I just wonder whether the one who started the thread were interested in knowing the reason for that... (Can't blame him if not, but what did he want to know really? :))
  38. Trisia

    Trisia Senior Member

    I would like to add something:

    koni = a cunoaşte (to know, to become aquainted; also has the Biblical connotation :rolleyes:)
    scii = a şti (to know, as posted by Old Avatar)

    Obviously we also have the distinction, but in everyday speech they're used interchangeably
  39. domangelo Senior Member

    United States English
    The way I understand them, conoscere, conocer, kennen are all similar in their distinction from sapere, saber, wissen. However, I believe that in French the distinction between connaître and savoir is purely grammatical, the difference between knowing + a noun (connaître) and knowing + a verb (savoir). Is this correct?
    Je sais repondre.
    Je connais la reponse.
  40. Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li! Member

    Czech | Czech Republic
    Czech actually has a three-way distinction:
    1. "vědět" - "to know" as in "to have knowledge" (of a fact).
    2. "znát" - "to know" a person, book, movie, etc.
    3. "umět" - "to know" how to do something, "to be able to" (not physically but to have the knowledge/features).

    In Slovak, however, "vedieť" has the combined meaning of both #1 and #3, even though there are words derived from cs:"umět" (but assimilated into Slovak) such as "umenie" (art). The Slovak equivalent of cs:"znát" is "poznať".
  41. alex.raf Member

    Dānestan دانستن (for knowledge of facts)
    Shenākhtan شناختن (knowing a person, thing, ...)
  42. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Greek is similar:

    Koni: «Ξέρω» [ˈk͜se.ɾɔ] --> to know of, be familiar with < Byz. Gr. «(ἐ)ξεύρω» (e)k͜seú̯rō (idem) < Classical aorist II «ἐξεῦρον» ĕk͜seû̯rŏn of v. «ἐξευρίσκω» ĕk͜seu̯rískō --> to find out, discover, seek out, search after, invent < «ἐκ» ĕk + «εὑρίσκω» heu̯rískō --> to find, find out, discover, uncover (possibly IE, related to Arm. գերել (gerem), to capture, take prisoner, Proto-Slavic *obrěsti > Rus. обрести, to gain, acquire).

    Scii: «Γνωρίζω» [ɣnɔˈɾi.zɔ] --> to know, learn, discover < Classical deverbative 3rd declension fem. noun «γνῶσις» gnôsis (nom. sing.), «γνώσεως» gnṓsĕōs (gen. sing.) --> inquiry, fame, knowledge < Classical v. «γιγνώσκω» gĭgnṓskō --> to come to know, perceive (PIE *ǵneh₃- to recognise, get to know cf Lat. (g)nōscere, Alb. njoh [ɲox], to know, acquaint).

    As did ancient Greek:

    «Γιγνώσκω» (see above)
    «Γνωρίζω» gnōrízō
    «Εἴδω» ei̯dō --> to know, see (PIE *ueid- to see cf Skt. वेद (veda), perception, knowledge, Lat. vidēre, Proto-Slavic *vidъ > Rus. вид, appearance, Cz./Svk vid, mode, aspect)
    «Οἶδα» oî̯dă --> to know (old Perfect used as Present, identical with Arm. գիտեք (gitekʼ), which arose from the Perfect, Go. wait, to know, Skt. वेद (véda), from *uoid-/*ueid-).
  43. Sardokan1.0

    Sardokan1.0 Senior Member

    Sardu / Italianu
    In Sardinian :

    Ischire (northern Sardinian, Logudorese and Nuorese)
    Sciri (southern Sardinian, Campidanese)

    From Latin "scire"

    While the Logudorese and Nuorese preserve the Latin classical pronunciation ("Scire -> Skire > Iskire"), the Campidanese version instead uses the ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation.

    Indicative present conjugation :
    Latin - Logudorese - Campidanese

    scĭo - isco - scìu
    scis - ìschis - scìis
    scit - ìschit - scìit
    scīmus - ischímus - scìéus
    scītis - ischídes - scìéis
    scĭunt - ìschin - scìint
  44. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    What were the differences between these 3 verbs in classical Latin?
  45. Sardokan1.0

    Sardokan1.0 Senior Member

    Sardu / Italianu
    I can tell you how these verbs work in Italian and Sardinian.

    First of all, the verb "scio" is not present in Italian, but there is in Sardinian, while the verb "sapere" is present in Italian and doesn't exist in Sardinian.

    About the meaning instead :

    Scio = to know something, like a news or a gossip or other, or to be able to do something, or to know a language or a subject.
    Cognosco = to know a person, or also to know a language, or to master a subject.
    Sapio = it's used in the same way of Scio

    Examples :
    Sardinian (verb "ischire")
    Happo ischìdu unu trobeddu de a tie = I've know a gossip about you
    Happo ischìdu qui ti ses cojuadu = I've known that you got married
    No isco si resesso a bènnere cras = I don't know if I can make it tomorrow
    Ischire faghere una cosa = To be able to do something
    Isco nadare = I'm able to swim
    Isco faeddare s'Inglesu = I'm able to speak English
    Isco sa matematica = I know mathematics

    Sardinian (verb "connoschere")
    Happo connottu a frade tou = I've known your brother
    Connosco s'Inglesu = I know English language
    Connosco sa matematica = I know mathematics

    Italian (verb "sapere")

    Ho saputo un pettegolezzo su di te = I've know a gossip about you
    Ho saputo che ti sei sposato = I've known that you got married
    Non so se riesco a venire domani = I don't know if I can make it tomorrow
    Saper fare una cosa = To be able to do something
    So nuotare = I'm able to swim
    So parlare l'Inglese = I'm able to speak English
    So la matematica = I know mathematics

    Italian (verb "conoscere")
    Ho conosciuto tuo fratello = I've known your brother
    Conosco l'Inglese = I know English language
    Conosco la matematica = I know mathematics
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
  46. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    In Latin sapere (+ acc.) means to smell/taste/smack of sth (cf. sapor = saveur/sapore/sabor = a taste/flavour [of a meal]).

    mella herbam sapiunt = honey (plur.) smells/tastes of herbs (sing.);
    unguenta crocum sapiunt = ointments smell of saffron;

    figuratively to have (common) sense/reason/intellect, to be wise/sensible (however it depends on the object in acc.):

    nihil sapere = lit. to smell/taste of nothing = fig. to have no common sense;
    si recta saperet Antonius = lit. if Antony would smell/taste of right things = fig. if Antony would have common sense, if Antony would be sensible;
    nil parvum sapere = lit. to smell/taste of nothing small = fig. to have no sense for trifles;

    Nihil sapis. = You are not sensible (able to make good judgements based on reason).
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018

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