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Linguaholic

Words with two meanings


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Do words with two meanings ever confuse you in the language you're trying to learn? For example in English, cricket can mean the sport or the insect, bark can be something a dog does or what you find on a tree trunk. In Spanish, tienda can mean shop or tent, and lengua means both tongue and language. Some I can see the link and can usually work out which it is, but other times I get completely confused. Do you know of any words like that? Do they confuse you too?

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I remember how confused I was when I first learned English by the word "like" because it was used as a verb which stated you loved something and also used as a term of comparison just like in this example: cats are animals just like dogs. The first mean of the word I have learned was the verb, and it was pretty confusing.

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In Dutch we have a very awkward one: eikel
Eikel can mean "moron", "tip of one's penis" and "acorn".

I have never seen a Polish word with multiple meanings, though.

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Yes!  Back when I was learning English I was so afraid to use certain things because I was a bit worried the other person would take what I said wrong.  Now this no longer happens because I've developed enough confidence, but the same thing is now happening with Dutch :(  I guess that is normal though, because I'm not even close to feel confident enough to even have a conversation in the language. 

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But once you really understand the language, you realize how easily the other person can anticipate the meaning of the word you are using.  There are a million things when learning a language that you are better off just not worrying about.   Sometimes you may say something awkward, but if you worry too much about it, you will slow down how fast you learn the language.. just go with the flow.

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The interesting thing about these topics is the fact that i only think of this when i read these questions, i even asked my brother "hey, tell me some words in out language that have 2 meanings!" and we were searching for them :D

Here some words:
-Bucato= Something with a hole or Laundry

-Gelato= Frozen (the passive of freeze) or Ice cream

-Rete= we call Internet (network) like this, but it means Net too

-Lingua= Language or Tongue

-Piano= it can be the Piano (music), a Floor, a Plan, or Slow

-Reale= Real or Royale

We also have some words that change the meaning depending on the accent:

Pesca= Pésca ( e with close accent) is the Fishing (sport), Pèsca (e with open accent) is Peach (the fruit) 

Ancora= Àncora (with the accent on the first A) is the Anchor, Ancòra (with the accent on the O) is "Again", "Still". :)

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm fine with this. Russian has tons of words with more than one meaning (look up снять someday).

What I've gotten into trouble with in the past is false friends among related languages. My all-time favorite is понос.  In Serbian it means honor whereas in Russian it means diarrhea

Don't confuse those two!

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  • 3 months later...

I think one of the weirdest word in English is 'bass' and 'bass', they're spelled the same but they don't mean the same thing and they aren't pronounced the same. Bass, beys, is used in music for low in pitch or the lowest pitch or range.  Bass, bas, is a fish in the families of Serranidae and Centrarchidae.  

Then you have words like crane where there are three meanings: bird, machine to lift objects, and the verb to arch your neck in unnatural position.  Usually the difference is between the noun and verb like point: sharp end of an object and the act of pointing a finger.  Leaves can be the plural of leaf or the act of leaving.  Rose is a flower or the action of getting up.  Foil for wrapping food or to sabotage a plot.  Right can reference a direction or correctness.  Type is how we write on a computer or subsection of category or class, it can also refer to the letters used in typography.  Run is also a strange one. The verb can refer to moving quickly on your legs, managing (like a business), working (like your car engine), or offering a service.  But the now can refer to a running competition (like a 10k run), a period of time, or a journey.  Break can mean destroy something into pieces, disobeying the law, becomes known (like breaking news), or ending something (like a relationship).  A break as a now can me a rest period, an opportunity that helps you achieve success, or a time of major changes in one's life.

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Sometimes these words are extremely confusing! It's also more confusing when you hear somebody speak one of those words and have to differentiate which meaning they are using. Unfortunately, it all comes down to memorization. I've gotten some of those words down in Spanish, and all of them down in English (because it's my native tongue) but I agree that it is extremely difficult when learning a foreign language!

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Yeah I'm coming across these while studying my current focus Yiddish.  Mir means both "we" and "me" which is confusing at first until you learn it.  And zey means both "they" and "them".  Kenen means both "to know" and "to be able to" so you can say "Ikh ken mayn tate"(I know my father) or "Ikh ken redn yiddish"(I am able to speak yiddish) and the word means two very different things in different contexts. 

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