Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Finding the Family Tree

A cognate—according to Encarta—means a thing that is related to or has the same parentage as another. It derives from a Latin word which means “born together.” In the linguistic world, therefore, Cognate is a descendent of Cognatus as well as a possible parent or brother to Cognada in Spanish.

Today I went to my last Spanish class of the year, which means I’m once again thinking of words, their roots, and their meanings…

If you are working on la computadora, for example, is it more fun to use the mouse and pulsar or else hacer click en el ratón, “to make a click on the mouse”? If, unhappily, someone has not learned to read, is it better to say that person is illiterate or that he is analfebeto, without the alphabet? And, how is the Spanish embotellamiento, or bottling up, related to or derived from the English “traffic jam” or “bottleneck”?

As an English speaker, I find it relatively easy to use the familiar cognate, the word that looks like someone you’ve already met. If you can find the remote—or at least remember its name—then it’s not too hard to guess that el remoto controls the TV set. Still, who stops to consider that el mando a distancia performs the same function by sending or commanding the TV at a distance?

Words are lovely things, when you stop to think about them. It's rather like listening to children learning how to speak—we get to hear the old things in a new way.

One of my long-held favorites is, in fact, that thing which others curse…being put on hold. No one wants to be held off—but what if, instead, you are asked “to be in hope,” estar en espera?

And, of course, there is always the Spanish word for an engagement or una compromiso matrimonial. My first thought was to match this word with a compromise or lowering of morals, not the proper ideal for a marriage at all. However, a marriage does at times require compromises or mutual concession, so perhaps the word is fitting. Even more appropriately, a marriage is a promise which a man and a woman make con, or with, each other.


(In the tangled family of words, it may be tricky to guess which language borrowed from another, but at least I can figure out my own family easily enough. Cognates, also according to Encarta, include anyone having the same ancestry, anyone related by blood. So, I rest assured that my siblings are among my many cognates.)

13 comments:

David said...

Congrats!!!!! :D

Audrey said...

Thanks! :-)

Daniel Sauble said...

Congratulations!

Daniel Sauble said...

;-)

Audrey said...

Thanks! I've been pretty excited, you know. :D

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Audry!!! I'm so happy for you! God bless.
Mrs. Voorhees

Amy Lewis said...

It seems you've found the root stock of a new family tree. Congratulations, Audrey! I am praising God with you!

Audrey said...

Thanks, Amy, Mrs. Vorhees! No one could have guessed that Spanish vocabulary would spark so many exclamation marks. ;-)

Krista M.V. said...

Congratulations to both of you! :D

BerlinerinPoet said...

Wait a minute...this picture. The conjugation of "engagement." These congratulations. I'm beginning to think there is something more to your Spanish, Audrey. If I'm right...HOOORAY! How fun!

Audrey said...

Thanks, Krista!

And yes, Heather, you are right. ;-)

Joyce said...

Congratulations! Many blessings to you both!

Audrey said...

Thank you, Joyce!

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