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September 13th, 2012

Pseudo-Cognates

This entry is about linguistics again, yay! Over the years, I have always been a bit fascinated (or rather: amused) by chance similarity between words in totally unrelated languages. I will try to keep the introduction short. So "cognates" are words in two languages that are etymologically related and share a common root in a common proto-language, like English green and German grün are cognates, because their common root is Proto-West-Germanic *gronja-. Sometimes they develop different meanings in the two respective daughter languages. And of course there are also loanwords from other languages. And there are many words that sound a like in two different languages, but mean something different, like fear doesn't mean vier ("four") in German, but sounds almost the same.
But there are also words in different languages, that are not related, but still sound the same and mean the same thing. I call them pseudo-cognates for obvious reasons.

The rules are: the words may be neither borrowed nor related. The meaning should be really identical or at least very close. The pronunciation should be (nearly) identical, except for very small differences like tones, vowel quality and maybe stress or vowel length.

And here's my collection so far:

Klingon: 'a [ʔɑ] = but
Russian: а [a] = but, and

Awngi: agwo [agʷo] = water
Spanish: agua [agwa] = water

Beria/Zaghawa: áɪ̄ [aɪ̯] = I
English: I [aɪ̯] = I

Ancient Greek: ἀεί [aei̯] = always (Modern Greek pronunciation: [ai])
Icelandic: æ [ai̯] = always

Welsh: ac [ak] = and
Wolof: ak [ək] = and

Atakapa: ak [ak] = water
Proto-North-Omotic: *ak' [akʼ] = water

Bole: àmma [amːa] = water
Cherokee: ᎠᎹ [ama] = water

Arabic: انت [æntæ] = you (sg. m.)
Japanese: あんた [anta] = you (coll.)

Esperanto:[au̯] = or
Swahili: au [au̯] = or

English: bad [bæd] = bad
Persian: بد [bæd] = bad

Persian: بله [bæle] = yes
Spanish: vale [bale] = okay

Japanese:[bone] = bone (in certain phonological contexts)
Middle English: bone [boːnə] = bone

English: die [dɑɪ̯] = to die
Proto-Miao-Yao: *dai [dai̯] = to die

Bulgarian: ден [dɛn] = day
Chechen: ден- [den-] = day (oblique stem)

Dogon: di [di] = water
Eastern Magar: ? [di] = water

English: dog [dɔɡ] = dog
Mbabaram: dog [doɡ] = dog

English: jot [ʤɒt] = to note down
Thai: จด [ʨòt] = to note down

Breton: ha [hʌ] = and
Guaraní: ha [ha] = and

German: habe [haːbə] = to have (IMP form)
Latin: habe [habe] = to have (IMP form)

English: he [hi] = he
Pirahã: hi [hi] = he, she, it

Chinese (Shuangfeng dialect):[ie̯] = ear
English (British dialect): ear [iːə̯] = ear

Tsez: ило [ilo] = there
Wambule: इलो [ilo] = there

Hurrian: ? [ini] = this
Indonesian: ini [ini] = this

Basque: hiri [iɾi] = city
Sumerian: 𒌷 [iri] = city

Dargi (Mekegi dialect): ит [it] = he, she, it
English: it [ɪt] = it

Russian: я [ja] = I
Mien: ya [ja] = I

Dumi: ये [je] = also, too
Mandarin:[i̯ɤ] = also, too

Zuñi: k'a [kˀa] = water
|Haasi: ka [ka] = water

English: cock [kʰɒk] = penis (vulg.)
Vietnamese: cặc [kɑˀk] = penis (vulg.)

German: kann [kʰan] = (I) can
Mandarin:[kʰan] = can, to be able

Dagaare: koɔ [koɔ̯] = water
Ghari: ko [ko] = water
Mapudungun: ko [ko] = water

Russian: коси- [kʌsʲi-] = to mow (stem form)
Tsez: коси- [kʰɔ̝si] = to mow (stem form)

Belhare: लेक्- [lɛk-] = to lick (stem form)
German: leck- [lɛk-] = to lick (stem form)

Ancient Greek: λίᾱν [liaːn] = too much
Finnish: liian [liːɑn] = too much

Hawaiian: like [like] = like, same
Middle English: like [liːkə] = like

English: long [lɔŋ] = long
Mandarin (Xi'an dialect):[loŋ] = big, strong, long

Korean:[mal] = language, talk
Old Norse: mál [mɑːl] = language, talk

Biak: man [man] = man
German: Mann [man] = man

Breton: me [mɛ] = I
Georgian: მე [mɛ] = I

French: main [mɛ̃] = hand
Xârâcùù: ? [mɛ̃] = hand

English: mess [mɛs] = mess, chaos, disorder
Kaqchikel: mes [mes] = chaos, disorder, garbage

Chinese (Cantonese):[min] = face, surface
English: mien [miːn] = facial expression

Eleme: mu [mu] = water
Jurchen: ? [mu] = water
Middle Egyptian: mw [mu] = water

Swahili: na [na] = and
Tok Pisin: na [na] = and

Greek: νερό [ne̞ro̞] = water
Telugu: నీరు [neːru] = water

Brahui: ني [niː] = du (sg.)
Mandarin:[ni] = you (sg.)

Japanese:[niɴ] = human, person, man
Somali: nin [nin] = person, man

Barbareño: ? [oʔ] = water
French: eau [o] = water

English: pay [pʰæi̯] = to pay
Mandarin:[pʰei̯] = to pay back

Belhare: पिक् [pik] = pick (a tool)
English: pick [pʰɪk] = pick (a tool)

English: rim [ɹɪm] = rim
Thai: ริม [ɾim] = rim

Cantonese:[saːm] = three
Georgian: სამ(ი) [sam(i)] = three (-i = NOM)

Indonesian: sama [sama] = same
Swedish: samma [samːa] = same

Basque: sei [s̺ei̯] = six
Italian: sei [sei̯] = six

Cora: si [si] = to see
English: see [si] = to see
Irarutu: si [si] = to see

Akkadian: ? [ʃiː / t͡ɬiː / ɬiː] = she
English: she [ʃiː] = she

English: so [soʊ̯] = so
Japanese: そう [soː] = so

Manchu (Xibe dialect): ? [sun] = sun
Old English: sun [sʊn] = sun

Kazakh: тау [tau̯] = mountain
Miao (Suyong dialect): tau [tau̯] = hill

Ancient Greek: θεό(ς) [tʰeó(s)] = God (-s = NOM)
Nahuatl: teo(tl) [teo(t͡ɬ)] = God (-tl = NOM)

Karen: thi [tʰi] = water
Kuna: di [ti] = water
Proto-Hadza: *ti [tʰi] = water
Suoy: ? [tɨʔ] = water

Ainu: トゥ [tu] = two
English: two [tuː] = two

Bezhta: цикIе [ʦɪkʼɛ] = young goat
German: Zicke [ʦʰɪkə] = she-goat

Italian: ciao [ʧau̯] = bye; hello
Vietnamese: chào [cɑu̯] = to greet; bye

Basque: ur [uɾ] = water
Yugh: ? [ur] = water

Hebrew: ו [va] = and
Vietnamese:[va] = and

Komi-Zyrian: ва [va] = water
Puma:[wa] = water

English: valley [væli] = valley
Georgian: ველი [vɛli] = valley

German: wenn [vɛn] = when
Itelmen: вэн [βɛn] = when

Ainu: ワㇰカ [wakːa] = water
Kaxararí: waka [wɐka] = water

Coahuilteco: wan [wan] = water
Norwegian (Bokmål): vann [ʋɑnː] = water

If you come across more such pseudo-cognates, please tell me in a comment or somewhere else and I will add them! Also, if you have doubts about any of those (be it phonetics, semantics or borrowing/relatedness), please write a comment and I'll explain or do some further research.

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