2

As an amateur I lack information about specialized resources for linguists. What I’m looking for is a list of stunning examples of false cognates in any discipline, that can be either exact matches, such as mahina which is both Hawaiian and Urdu for “month”, or near misses such as rumai and rumah, respectively Lithuanian and Malay for “house”, or be more different but meaning the same thing, such as Ehecatl and Eolos, the “wind deity” in Nahuatl and Greek. The criteria I’m looking for are that 1) the words should be longer than monosyllables, and 2) not being onomatopoeic, like papalotl and papillion in Nahuatl and French.

I understand that a resemblance between two words can be highly subjective, but I wonder if this type of resource exist? I would like to have a grasp of the extent of linguistic convergences across the world.

  • In principle there should be some such lists since they play a role in certain arguments against unmotivated "X is related to Y" claims. I take it you want more than an example or two, though – a decent-sized list. – user6726 Jul 16 '17 at 0:41
  • Exactly, a sort of compendium of false cognates cherry-picked for their uniqueness. The longer the list (and the cognates), the better! – betelgeuse Jul 16 '17 at 1:21
  • 1
  • 1
    See possible duplicate linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/22629/…; the accepted answer links to such a list. – Mark Beadles Jul 16 '17 at 13:55
  • 3
    There are dozens of words in every language that are "sort of the same" as words with "sort of the same" meaning in dozens of other languages. They're not hard to find. English hole and Yucatec Maya /ho:l/, both with the same meaning, for instance. This is discussed very clearly, with examples, in Trask's Historical Linguistics. – jlawler Jul 16 '17 at 14:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.