May 30 • 3M


Can you recall?

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Knowing cognates can strengthen your vocabulary skills.
Episode details

memory — a person or thing remembered (this is only one of the many definitions for “memory,” but it’s the one I want to use for today — Memorial Day)

memoria — the Spanish (and Italian) cognate of the same meaning (and others)

“Memory” and “memoria” come from the Latin word memoria, and you can see that it didn’t change its spelling in Spanish (or Italian). The Latin word was made from memor which means “mindful” or “remembering.”

There are many other words that come to us from memor. Today, for example, is Memorial Day in the United States. It is a day to remember those who have died while serving in our military. “Memorial” can be something commemorative or something that relates to our memory, or our ability to recall someone who is no longer with us.

In Spanish, there is an exact cognate for “memorial.” It is simply “memorial;” however, if you are referring to a physical thing, they do prefer the word “monumento,” but you can probably guess what that is in English.

I’ve visited many Memorials, from those at Arlington National Cemetery to the one created to honor the victims of 9/11 in New York City to the one for WWI veterans in Kansas City (pictured below) and many others.

Having a father who is a veteran, I’ve always treated Memorial Day with the respect it deserves, and today I am reading my poem about standing flag lines at military funerals at a Memorial Day service in Omaha.

If you would like to view the video on my YouTube channel of me reading this poem, click here: "I Stood a Flag Line Today"

We have many other words in English and Spanish that are related to “memory.” If we “memorize” something, we commit it to our memory for recall later. That Spanish cognate is “memorizar.”

If we want to make a note to remember something, we write a “memorandum,” which is usually shortened to “memo.” That is an exact cognate in Spanish but with an added accent mark: “memorándum.”

If something is easy to remember, we call it “memorable,” which is also an exact cognate of “memorable” in Spanish.

A “memoir” is a type of writing that deals with a person’s memories. In Spanish, though, they tend to simply call that an “autobiografía,” and I’m sure you can figure out what that is in English because it’s another lovely cognate.

I chose this word in honor of today being Memorial Day, but it’s another great example of the power of cognates to help you learn and then “remember” words as you try to learn a foreign language. You don’t have to completely rely on your “memory” to store all the new words when there are cognates of words already stored in your “memory.”

Until next time. Please share this with anyone you know who might be interested in subscribing.


Tammy Marshall

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