The association game: looking for similar words in English and Russian for a quick memorization

Recently we were asked in the comments to write an article about words in Russian that are similar to English words that is to say about what are cognates in english. Such associations help you learn new words faster, but it’s important not to get caught up in the well-known “translator’s false friends”. Today we will talk about both the former and the latter.

Many words in Russian are similar in sound to words in English with a similar meaning, which really simplifies the process of memorizing them: for example, child is child, dream, and so on. Thanks to this associative chain, English vocabulary is much easier to learn for Russian speakers.

For example, a very popular women’s closet item “body” takes its name from the English “body”, which is translated as “body” and also allows us to build a logical chain, simplifying memorization: underwear, which fits the body – body is translated as “body” – “body”. As a result, both the name of the closet element and the “basic” translation of the English word are memorized. In continuation of the “clothing” theme: shorts will help to remember the English “short,” which is translated as “short,” and “shorts” in the plural means just “shorts. Your favorite sweater will also be very helpful in learning English, and will make a difference: the pronunciation resembles the verb “to sweat”, from which its English counterpart “sweater” was once formed.

Various words that we use every day without even thinking about it in the midst of dra reading test, can also help us remember this or that vocabulary from English. For example, the word “clown” or “clowning” will remind us of the pronunciation and meaning of the English “clown”, and “puzzle” will help us remember the verb “to puzzle” (which means not only puzzle, but also “to puzzle”): when we put together a puzzle, we have to put the pieces together, we honestly puzzle over it, and we are in a state of puzzlement.

From English to Russian came a lot of borrowings, which have taken root and are tightly rooted in our language. If you understand the nature of this or that borrowing – the meaning of the original, “original” English word – you can easily remember many popular words from completely different spheres. For example, briefing – “brief” has the meaning “brief, short”, i.e. “briefing” is translated as “short meeting/conference”. The profession “image-maker” comes from the English word “imagemaker,” which, in turn, is broken down into two more components: “image” and “make,” which together make up “to create an image.” The well-known word “mainstream” is also a borrowing from the English language, consisting of “main” and “stream”. Probably, you will not need these words or, on the contrary, you have been using them in their original form for a long time, but parsing them into their components will help you to remember the meaning of other words and thus expand your vocabulary.

Anyway, it is important to distinguish words similar in sound and meaning, as well as borrowings from the translator’s false friends, which can play a cruel joke with foreign language learners.

The term “translator’s false friends” (fr. faux amis) first appeared in 1928 in a book by M. Kessler and J. Derocquigny and refers to words in two languages that, although similar in spelling and/or pronunciation, differ in meaning. Because of their apparent similarity, they can confuse the language learner, hence the telling name. False friends of an interpreter can cause the meaning of an entire sentence, and often an entire text, to be misunderstood. Such words do not only exist in English – a student of almost any foreign language has at least once encountered such a phenomenon. So there are examples of “false friends” from different languages: there is Polish “miasto”, which really means “city” and not “place”, and Czech “czas”, which translates as “time” and not “hour”.

When it comes to false friends of the translator in English, we are all familiar with the word “magazine. Many people, especially in the early stages of learning English, stubbornly translate this word as “store,” when in fact the correct translation is “magazine. The same situation is with “artist” – virtually every second person is mistaken about the meaning of this word, thinking that it is translated as “artist” because of the similarity in sound, when in fact it is “painter”. The electrician is also unlucky – despite the fact that in English his profession correctly sounds like “electrician,” he is often confused with “electric,” which actually means “electric.”

“A girl’s best friend is a diamond,” reads a popular expression, actively used from fiction to songs, but few people think that the English “brilliant” primarily means the adjective “brilliant, ingenious,” and “diamond” in most cases will still sound like “diamond.

And don’t let the word “crest” put an end to your attempts to translate it correctly: in fact, the correct translation is “crest” or “helmet,” not “cross,” which would be “cross. It’s the same story with “general,” which is “general, basic.” “Master” has long since extended its range of meaning to “master” and “master,” and in most cases will be translated that way, not just as “master.”

Poor Danes get it too – they are often called “the Dutch” because of the similarity in sound, while “the Dutch” translates to “the Dutch,” and “the Danes” will sound like “the Danes.” They also understand the importance of

The method of searching for similar words in the native and target languages can really simplify the process of memorization, as well as the construction of associative chains. Borrowing is also a great help, because if you trace the etymology and literal translation of the “original” word, the meaning immediately becomes clearer and more logical.