Monday, April 29, 2013

Fun with False Cognates

I discovered an interesting false cognate in church today between Greek and Hawaiian. False cognates, for the curious, are two words from different languages that sound similar and have the same meaning, but have no linguistic history between them. An example would be the word dog (meaning a domesticated canine), which means the same thing and is pronounced the same in both English and the Australian Aboriginal language Mbabaram despite having developed completely independently. Another case would be the Hawaiin word kahuna, which means “priest”, and the Hebrew word k'huna (כְּהוּנָה) which means “priesthood”.

The one I discovered today is between the Hawaiian word pau, meaning “finished, done, ended,” and the Koine Greek root παύ- (pau-), meaning “stop, cease, to stop or make cease.” It wasn't in the list of false cognates on Wikipedia when I checked today, so as far as I know I may be the first person ever to notice it (given that there are probably not that many people who are familiar with both Koine Greek and Hawaiian). It's in the list now because I added it while writing this post.

Anyone else out there have any interesting ones to share that aren't yet in Wikipedia? Feel free to post 'em here and add 'em to the list if you do!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah languages! That's really cool. I think I've noticed some false cognates between my languages as well, but there's a ton of real cognates too so it just kind of slips by.


Think I said something interesting or insightful? Let me know what you thought! Or even just drop in and say "hi" once in a while - I always enjoy reading comments.