>My point is that without sufficient knowledge of linguisitics
>AND the languages concerned, we cannot, we MUST not
>conclude that two words have the same (or even a similar)
>meaning just by the resemblance of sounds or spelling.
Absolutely. To take a rather extreme example, "pan" in English is something
for cooking in, but "pan" in Czech means "Mr."... while "pa'n" is
>Stranger coincidences have occurred.
There are also sometimes problems when two languages have separately
borrowed from a third: one such instance which caused me no end of confusion
when I was learning Czech was the word "host". The English word "host", in
the sense of a person who has guests in the house etc., comes from the Old
French "host", in turn derived from Latin "hospes, hospitis" meaning
The Czech "host", like that root Latin, means "guest", i.e. has the opposite
meaning to the same word in English! From it come derivatives such as
"hostina" (En "banquet" - i.e. something for guests) and "hostitel" (this
time En. "host", i.e. one who deals with or looks after guests, cf. the
guestmaster in an Orthodox monastery).
Alastair Millar, BSc(Hons)
Consultancy and translation for the heritage industry
P.O.Box 685, CZ 111 21 Prague 1, Czech Republic