Monday, April 7, 2008

Learning Spanish by Studying Cognates

By Lenton Aikins I could never get my hands around the French Language. I spent ten months in France in the U.S. military, countless hours sitting at cafes on the Champs Elyses and watching French women sachet by, uniquely as only French women can. I took eighteen college units in French, six courses in all, and managed to memorize my way into earning As, passed the Educational Testing Service written test in French. But I never really understood French. With the exception of taking no-doze and helping the coffee growing countries just before midterms and finals, I spent a good deal of time hating French cognates, because in the French language you never know when one is a false friend. You see, in French, cognates are the equivalent of the Spanish revenge verbs, IR and SER. The reason being is there are so many French words masquerade as cognates that are actually false friends, words appearing to be the same as in English, but have an entirely different meaning, e.g., such as in Spanish: arena, (sand, not arena), xito (outcome, success, not exit) and gracioso, e.g. (funny, not graceful) (E.g., stands for exempli gratia and means for example.) Indeed, I considered having to put up with cognates and false friends while studying French as the price we mono-linguistic Americans have to pay for conning the French out of the entire Louisiana Purchase for less than three cents an acre. So every time you hear the Eskimos of Alaska bitching about being robbed, remind them how lucky they are for getting more than twice as much (seven cents an acre) out of Uncle Sam in Sewards Folly for the Alaska Purchase than we paid the French for Louisiana. Well, I guess that explains why the Eskimos have not taken out any revenge on us! Having cleared up that long-standing historical misunderstanding, manos a la obra--lets get to work and to learning Spanish by concentrating on cognates. II. Seven Types of Cognates that aid Learning Spanish Part One First, let me disabuse you about one thing: Dont believe for a minute that our seven categories have anything to do with the so-called Seven Wonders of the World. So if you are going to be disappointed, stop reading now before you become a basket case. We have enough lunatics in this world going postal, and I do not want to knowingly or unknowingly contribute to more lunatics--some would say crackpots, but I for one refuse to get into any discussions about George W. Bush. This is serious scholarly stuff for Christs sakes! Give it a rest! Here are the following Seven Types of Cognates that I will be discussing: (1) Real Cognates; (2) Similar Cognates; (3) Deceiving Cognates; (4) Prefix Cognates A and (50 Prefix Cognates B; (6) Suffix Cognates; and, most important, (7) Verb Cognates. Type One Cognates Real Cognates In these squibs, we can only provide you with just a few examples. In RICAs courses where students enroll for one month or more, we supply them with over 1000 cognates to help them learn Spanish. (For a free list of cognates, e-mail me personally at: Be sure to include in the subject line Request Cognates.) Real Cognates are words which have the same spelling and the same
meaning in both languages. Shouldnt learning Spanish be just as easy?
Of course not! Those of us whove made the efforts and sacrifices, some would say suffered the punishment, to learn Spanish should not have our sacrifices highjacked by excuse makers of the world. Now, get to work and learn Spanish! . Real Cognates are such words as: vision habitual horror natural humor total perfume probable fatal normal terrible horrible director sector actor Inevitable natural personal ideal formal Please forgive me for leaving out the word terror, but quite frankly I am tired of hearing the word. Lets just live, or as Addidas puts it, Hazlo!
If you do not like the title of this article, Real Cognates, feel free to change it to Verisimilitude Cognates. God forbid that I be accused of being anti-intellectual! I am just trying to keep things simple. Type Two Cognates Similar Cognates You can learn Spanish quickly if you get into the habit of associating
words to ascertain their meaning. Similar Cognates are words which have just about the same meaning and nearly the same spelling in both Spanish and English. I thought Id clarify to the reader that were actually talking about Spanish and English here. Ive decided to leave French to the French. Similar Cognates are: victima efecto hroe instinto tomate cmico disciplina accidente pblico medicina aspirina humano necesario individuo frecuente continente agente cliente distinto academia It should be noticed that I did not include the word, imbcil. I dont wanta get political here! Type Three Cognates Deceiving Cognates Deceiving Cognates are words which are similar in form, but have a whole different meaning. These words turn the expression learning Spanish has never been so easy upside down. Permit me to make myself perfectly clear.
here: deceiving cognates have nothing to do with false and deceiving claims about WMDs, allegations of secreting chemical weapons, nor do these words have anything to do with the intelligence that led up to the United States War against Iraq. So, please do not think I am going to make any remarks like: I did not have sex with that woman. Dont think youre going to get such non-sense here, as: she had sex with me, but I never had sex with her! Or I dont know what the meaning of is, is. Get a grip. This is serious stuff. RICA is all about learning Spanish, not flipping out with nonsense. Anyway, I never really understood the word is. So, unlike so many smart asses around, I didnt have anything to remember about that little two-letter assassin. This is not a political tract. We are speaking plain language here! Deceiving here means just what it says, plain deceiving. If I say: that old sway back cow up on the hill, I want you to understand that I am talking about that old sway back cow up on the hill, not about the conduct of the imbeciles on Capitol Hill. (Oh Lord, the i word slipped out!) So, lets get to work. Here are a few deceiving Spanish cognates. I wont call them false friends because it just wouldnt do justice to the magnitude of the Frenchs revenge against us with their false friends: asistir arena contestar desgracia actual xito gracioso caf agitar Type Four Cognates Prefix Cognates A A prefix, as if you didnt know, (forgive me, I have to write something here) is a letter or two or a syllable in front of a word which modifies, alters or changes the meaning of the word. These fall into two separate categories. Such prefixes include des in and im in Spanish. I separate them into categories. The des category first: cansar descansar cuidar descuidar cargar descargar destornillar torcer destorcer hacer deshacer destapar tiempo destiempo Type Five Cognates in, im Prefix Cognates B In this separate category, you have Spanish prefixes im, in and occasionally an un prefix. So, if you know the word without the prefix, you should have no problem recognizing the word with the prefix in front of it: til intil felix infelix discreto indiscreto
preciso impreciso pedir impedir moral inmoral
paciente impaciente diferencia indiferencia activo inactivo Type Six Cognates Suffix Cognates Suffix Cognates permit you to identify the meaning of an English word by
understanding word endings in Spanish that reveal the meaning in English. Perhaps this species should have been called el cagnato de divertido,
because you can learn Spanish, and a lot of it, by thoroughly familiarizing yourself with the many word permutations you will find in this species of cognates. But first, may I digress? It was not until I started teaching English classes (Dont laugh, my undergraduate minor was English. This may explain why readers have threaten to put a contract out on me!) to Ticos that I found out that many of them did not know the meaning of the word cognato in Spanish. I noticed a strange look on the students faces when I first mentioned cognato. I continued on until the end of the class session when I intended to say cognato and, while yawning, actual said cagada! They laughed out loud. They explained that they thought I had said cagada when I first mentioned cognato to them because they never heard cagnato.. I looked up the word cagada and found out that it meant excrement! So, the students thought that I was using excrement to explain words that have the same spelling and meaning in both Spanish and English!I learned Spanish as a fully-grown adult and never had any taste for street Spanish. Well, so much for el Seor Sobrelotodo! It is very easy for English speakers to recognize Spanish Cognates that end in dad, tad, cia, cin, sin y, ivo, etc. First, the endings of dad and tad: eternidad velocidad adversidad identidad curiosidad posibilidad facilidad comunidad dificultad identidad comodidad posibilidad electricidad comunidad fatalidad Next, a few examples of words ending in cin and sin emocin satisfaccin profesin admission session ilusin evasion comisin administraciόn admiraciόn construcciόn celebraciόn definiciόn exportaciόn inspiraciόn generaciόn Before you have a coronary, the initials cia are word endings, not the American super-fly, oops, super spy outfit and cia does not mean crying in the alley. So, lighten up and enjoy the cia-cio super express: importancia ignorancia sucio influencia diferencia inteligencia experiencia violencia silencio ambulancia tolerancia presencia The following endings are equivalent to English ivo: activo pasivo efectivo defensivo agresivo constructivo objetivo subjetivo expresivo destructivo ofensivo cooperativo There are many, many more cognitive like words and endings. Indeed, they are limited only by the readers inspiration, imitative and intelligence. Notice, I mentioned intelligence last. Intelligence is much less important than inspiration and imitative. So, you lazy asses of the world have no excuses not to learn Spanish! Type Seven Cognates Verb Cognates Last in line, first in importance, are verb cognates. These are rocket fuel
for the students vocabulary. If the student really wants to run with the big dogs, he must get off of the porch! This is the area you should spend at least one-half of the time you have set aside to study cognates. Now you are reading this stuff because you have an interest in learning Spanish, No? If you have an interest, I assume that you are mature enough to know that you must set aside time to study and you must set goals. I never want to talk down, rather write down, to my reader. I respect the time youve taken to read my remarks hereand I thank you. But, I would be less than honest with you if I wrote as if I did not know that many students fail to set aside time to study and, on top of that failure, fail to set goals and without the two, failure in learning Spanish is highly likely. Take the time to learn verb cognates. They cut across all three types of verbs, AR, ER and IR verbs. Here are just a few examples: retener obtener sostenar mantener exponer proponer suponer imponer reducir producir introducir influir concluir contemplar imitar demonstrar dominar atraer distraer contraer extraer delegar comunicar concentrar formular rehabilitar elaborar celebrar obligar agitar Los Cognatos del verbos son la flor y nata de dessarrollo de su vocabulario. In all of RICAs month long or longer courses, the student is given over 1000 cognates to study as the process of learning Spanish is taking place. The intensive study of cognates makes learning Spanish a lot less difficult! Good luck, buena suerte, and even, bon chance. The French had to have the last word! Please feel free to republish this article and/or email it. The author requests that you include the author's information and a link to in the reproductions. Lenton Aikins, Ph.D., J.D., and former California Attorney, is the Director and owner of RICA, Academia de Idiomas de Costa Rica., E-mail: He learned Spanish as an adult and is keenly aware of the problem facing adult English speakers who wish to learn Spanish as a second language.
2007 by Lenton Aikins, Ph.D., J.D. Article Source: phentermine with out a prescription
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