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Surgeons' Lounge: Say What?
Being Embarazada Is No Reason to Be Embarrassed
Jim Burger
Publish Date: March 3, 2015   |  Tags:   Patient Experience
Embarazada is not the same as Embarrassed LANGUAGE BARRIER Look-alike and sound-alike words in English and Spanish don't always have similar meanings.

SAY WHAT?
Being Embarazada Is No Reason to Be Embarrassed

Would you think twice about telling a Spanish-speaking patient to take a certain medication once every 4 hours? You should. Once (pronounced ohn-say) is 11 in Spanish. "And there are examples where people took medication 11 times instead of once," says cross-cultural communication expert Gail Price-Wise, MPH. Look-alike and sound-alike words in English and Spanish often have similar roots and similar meanings. But not always. Watch out for "false cognates" — words that look similar but have very different meanings. In the table above you'll find examples of word pairs that look like they might mean the same thing but don't (courtesy of "Obvious But Wrong").

False Cognates

Una decepci??n

A disappointment, not a deception

Bizarro

Refers to someone who's brave, not strange

Complexi??n

Refers to your physical build, not to your skin

Compromiso

A promise or commitment, not a compromise

Una constipaci??n

A cold, not constipation

Desgracia

A mistake or misfortune, not a disgrace

Disgusto

Displeasure or misfortune, not disgust

Embarazada

To be pregnant, not embarrassed

En absoluto

Not at all or absolutely not, as opposed to the opposite

Molestar

To bother or annoy; there are no sexual connotations

Pretender

To try, not to fake anything

Sopa

Soup, not soap (that's jab??n)

— Jim Burger