Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ten Dangerous Cognates

Some words in the course of history, while retaining a similar spelling, diverge in meaning from related languages. For these lexical black sheep the French coined false amies, “false friends.” Deception, for example, has the Spanish counterpart decepción, both deriving from the Latin decipere, “to deceive,” but in Spanish it denotes disappointment.

Here are the top ten false friends, falsos amigos:
  1. Molestar has nothing to do with the predatory act of molestation. Molestar is to bother, to annoy. It is often used in the expressions no molestes, no me molestes, “don’t bother, leave me alone.”
  2. Divertir is not to divert but to entertain. Divert is desviar.
  3. Publicidad is not free publicity, it is paid advertisement.
  4. Agresivo, as in una ejecutiva agresiva is not an aggressive businesswoman but one who, unable to take no for an answer, gives clients a beating. Un hombre agresivo con las mujeres is not the gregarious player who charms ladies impetuously, but a ruffian who batters them. Aggressive is emprendedor, audaz, dinámico.
  5. Embarazada is not embarrassed but pregnant. Embarrassed is avergonzada. During an official visit to Mexico, an American President claimed to be muy embarazado por no hablar español, “very pregnant for not speaking Spanish,” prompting an anonymous diplomat to send him a pink teddy bear, un osito de peluche rosado.
  6. Introducir shares with the English verb “to introduce” the sense of bringing in and beginning, as in Colón introdujo el tabaco en Europa, “Columbus introduced tobacco in Europe.” It is not used, however, to introduce people. Pedro le introduce a María, for example, has vulgar sexual overtones, as introducir also means to penetrate. The verb presentar is used to introduce people, as in Pedro le presenta a María, “Pedro introduces María to him/her.”
  7. Pretender has nothing to do with facking, it means trying, as in Julia pretende asistir a Harvard, “Julia is trying to go to Harvard.” To pretend is fingir.
  8. Destituido is not destitute, but removed from office, as in el presidente corrupto fue destituido por el congreso, “the corrupt President was removed from office by Congress.” Destitute, the state of extreme poverty, is indigente, as in los ex presidentes corruptos rara vez son indigentes, “former corrupt presidents are seldom destitute.”
  9. Once is eleven. Once, as in the song, for once in my life, is una vez, as in the song, solamente una vez, amé en la vida, solamente una vez, y nada más, “only once I loved, only once and never again.”
  10. Capable is spelled exactly as the adjective of aptitude capable, but it denotes a propensity or a state of readiness to be castrated. Capable is capaz.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Spanish for Hotels and Travel

Spanish for Hotels and Travel

¿Tiene habitaciones disponibles?
Do you have any vacancies?
Lo siento, pero todas las habitaciones están ocupadas.
I’m sorry. We are full.
Quisiera reservar una habitación, por favor.
I would like to reserve a room, please.
Tengo reservada una habitación.
I have a room booked.
Para dos días.
For two days.
Para esta noche.
For tonight.
¿Cuánto cuesta por noche, por persona?
How much is for room, for person?
Quiero un cuarto doble, sencillo.
I want a double room, single.
Quiero un cuarto con ventana al mar.
I want a room with an ocean view.
Quiero un cuarto con (sin) comida.
I want a room with (without) meals,
¿En qué piso está?
On what floor is it?
¿Cuál es el número de mi habitación?
What is my room number?
¿Hay un ascensor? ¿Dónde está?
Is there an elevator? Where is it?
Quisiera quedarme una noche más.
I would like to stay another night.

Requests and Questions at the Hotel
Tengo el equipaje afuera en el taxi, ¿lo puede recoger?
I have baggage outside in the taxi
Mande al botones.
Send the bellboy.
Por favor, mande el equipaje a mi habitación.
Send my baggage to my room.
Necesito planchar unas prendas.
I need things pressed.
¿Tiene servicios de lavado de ropa?
Do you have laundry services?
¿Tiene algún mensaje para mi?
Do you have a message for me?
¿A qué hora llega el correo?
What time does the mail arrive?
Quisiera hablar con el gerente.
I would like to speak to the manager.
¿Pasa algo?
Is there something wrong?
Sí, hay un escorpión en mi baño. ¿Es ese su concepto de ecoturismo?
Yes. There’s is scorpion in my bathroom. Is that your idea of ecotourism?
Olvidé la llave de mi habitación.
I forgot my room key.
Por favor, despiérteme a las 8 (ocho)
Please, wake me up at 8.
¿Ofrecen servicios de habitación?
Do you have room service?
Quisiera tomar el desayuno en mi habitación.
I want breakfast in my room.
¿Cuándo sirven el desayuno, almuerzo, cena?
When do you serve breakfast, lunch, dinner?
La cadena del inodoro no funciona.
The toilet won’t flush.
Necesito un poco de hielo.
I need some ice.

At the Restaurante

The easiest and most basic way to order something is:
(What you want) + por favor.

Una cerveza (beer), por favor.
Dos cafés, por favor.
La cuenta (check), por favor.

A more polite way of asking:

Quisiera (I would like) + (what you want), por favor.
Quisiera una sopa de pollo.
Quisiera un sándwich de jamón (not to be confused with jabón, soap.)

If you want the waiter (camarero o mesero) to bring you something:

Me trae un vaso de agua (glass of wáter), por favor.
Por favor, ¿me trae un vaso de vino (wine)?

You can also use the verb to give, dar.

Me da un vaso de leche (can you give me a glass of milk), por favor.
Me da más vino, por favor. Mucho más.
Por favor, ¿me da una ensalada mixta?

Other necessary vocabulary for the restaurant:

Los cubiertos (silverware)
El cuchillo (knife)
El tenedor (fork)
La cuchara (spoon)
La cucharita (tea spoon)
Un plato (a plate, a dish)
Una tasa (a cup)
Hay un mosco en mi sopa.