Thursday, April 02, 2009

similar .. but not ..

words are interesting. and quite enjoyable.

in learning another language, there are always mistakes and misusing words that sound similar but in fact mean something completely different! one recent example .. i was talking to a young teenager about how people hang out in groups. especially young people. and the romanian word for such a group or 'gang' is gaşcă (gahsh-kuh). i couldn't quite remember how to say it, and instead said găscă (gah-skuh). in my mind, these look and sound somewhat similar. except that one means 'gang' .. and one means 'goose'. this friend i was talking to laughed and couldn't think of what word i might actually be trying to say. to my english-speaking brain, they are just a few accents different. to her romanian-speaking brain, they aren't even close! finally i was able to verbalize the right version and she thought about it and said that they are somewhat similar .. but it didn't cross her mind until i finally explained it!

an example of this in english is the two words 'chicken' and 'kitchen'. until i came to romania, i would not have thought them to be even remotely related. seriously. think about it. say them. look at them. they have the same sounds .. just in a slightly different order :) which means that sometimes people say funny things such as 'i'm going to bake in the chicken'.

my brain finds random connections that others' don't necessarily find. i know that everyone's brain works differently, and it's enjoyable that over my time here, some friends have learned to make similar connections and don't look at me quite so strangely when i ask about a word that somehow sounds or looks similar. anyway .. early on in my language learning, i struggled to remember the difference between three words that sound and look similar (to me!). mănuşă, mătusă, and mătură. respectively meaning glove, aunt, and broom. very different things! i've got them settled now, but there were definitely a few humorous and embarrassing mistakes at first. in a course i took about learning language, they said 'you will be the town clown, so laugh it up!' and it's pretty true .. people certainly notice and find humor in my mistakes, so once in a while i purposefully use a 'new word' that i've made up (by messing up before), which brings smiles to faces.