Acquaintance (Indirect Cognates)

We talked about friends or cognates in a recent post. It’s time to talk about acquaintance or indirect cognates,

If a cognate is a word that are similar in two languages, an indirect cognate is a word that you cannot recognize at first sight but only through a third word that resembles that of English. For example, the word toro doesn’t sound like “bull”, but with some inspection (imagination is important here), you can associate toro with “taurus,” the Zodiac sign, which is.. voila! bull.

You can´t expect to hear toro and imagine what it means, but this is a kind of word that, once you know the third party, you can memorize it easily and forever. By the way most Zodiac symbols are third parties of other words, like twins -gemini –gemelos.

The following is a list of indirect cognates. It is not complete, but it will give you an idea of how easy they are.

# Spanish English Cognate English/ Spanish
1. agua water aquarium = acuario
2. año year annual = anual
3. araña spider arachnid = arácnido
4. árbol tree arboretum = arboreto
5. avión plane aviation = aviación
6. bailar to dance ballerina = bailarina
7. beber to drink beverage = bebida
8. campo field to camp = acampar
9. carne meat carnivore = carnívoro
10. cerebro brain cerebral = cerebral
11. cien hundred cent = céntimo
12. cuerpo body corporal = corporal
13. diente tooth dentist = dentista
14. dormir to sleep dormant = durmiente
15. escalera ladder escalator = escalera mecánica
16. gemelo twin Gemini (zodiac) = géminis
17. grande big grand = gran
18. hombre man human = humano
19. leche milk lactose = lactosa
20. lengua tongue language = lenguaje
21. luna moon lunar = lunar
22. mano hand manual = manual
23. mar sea submarine = submarino
24. mes month semester = semestre
25. mil thousand mile = milla
26. muerto dead morgue = morgue
27. nacer to be born native = nativo
28. nave vessel navigate = navegar
29. pez fish Pisces (zodiac) = piscis
30. piel skin to peel = pelar
31. polvo dust to pulverize = pulverizar
32. pueblo village popular = popular
33. refugio shelter to refuge = refugiar
34. sentir to feel sentiment = sentimiento
35. sol sun solar = solar
36. toro bull Taurus (zodiac) = tauro
37. uno one unit = unidad
38. vender to sell vendor = vendedor
39. ver to see visible = visible
40. vivir to live to survive = sobrevivir

A last comment about indirect cognates is that there are many from English to Spanish (so, good news if you want to learn Spanish) but they are rare from Spanish to English. This is because it is rare to find Latin words in English that have been replaced by a non-Latin word in Spanish. An example is “spleen”, bazo, Spanish has the prefix espleno- “spleen related.”

To summarize, it’s worthwhile looking for connection between words and feeling fortunate.

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