Thursday, July 5, 2012

Easily confused words

Yup, they have been driving me crazy for some time, so it's time for a post. I'll try to remember as many of these confusing pairs as I can.

Falling in love may put you in a jam, but that's no excuse for me confusing these two words:

məhəbbət means love, mürrəbbə means jam

Don't ask your waiter for some love with your tea when all you really want is some jam!

Maybe it's something about words that begin with m... Hmmm...
Why would I confuse mühariba with mühafizə - the second is guarding or defense (a pretty common sign as lots of places in Baku have guards) while the first is all-out war.

Then there is the confusion in meaning between these very similar words: 
uzun means long, lengthy; uzaq means distant, far away

And that other close pair:
seyf means safe, just exactly as it sounds; but sehv means a mistake

And I still have to stop to think before I say these two:
səhər is morning; şəhər is city

There are many more. Stay tuned.


Alef Noon said...


There is a reason why you or some azeris confuse certain types of words.
You see, words that you say start with təh (təhqir, təhqiq, təhrik, təhlil, təhsil) and many other words similar to them in terms of their structure come from Arabic. None of them start with təh technically as you define them but all of them have certain elements inherited from Arabic language and preserved in Azeri.
Here I need to explain a few things about Arabic grammar so that what I will write next will make sense to you. Unlike azeri, in arabic new words made basically by changing vowels of a given consonant root or adding vowel and consonants into the word (in azeri you mostly use suffixes for these purposes). That totally changes how the word looks like but there are certain stable patterns that give rise to predictability in terms of meaning (at least in arabic and to those who understands its basics).
Take for example, the word kitab in azeri. It means book and it is an arabic word. Its consonant root is K-T-B and this root does not have any particular meaning in and of itself either in azeri or in arabic (almost all roots have only three consonants, no more, no less). As a root its semantic field related to words on writing and scribing. So by adding i and a you get kitab (book) (K-i-T-a-B). By adding a and i you get katib (K-T-B ------ K-a-T-i-B) which in azeri means secretary or scribe. Perhaps you know words məktəb and məktub. They both come from the same consonantal roots (mə-K-T-ə-B and mə-K-T-u-B). Notice that all of these words related to concept of writing and learning (book, secretary, school, letter).
Now, there are dozens of these consonantal roots and patterns which is used in azeri and came from arabic. I don't want to go deeper than this but this is one of the reasons that words look similar and, therefore, confusing. Below you will see more of these patterns built on consonantal roots.

təhrik (root: H-R-K. Pattern: tə-H-R-i-K). provokation

təhqir (root: H-Q-R. Pattern: tə-H-Q-i-R). offense

təslim (root: S-L-M. Pattern: tə-S-L-i-M).
submission (it is mostly used as part of phrases as in təslim olmaq). (The word "salam" come from the same root).

təsdiq (root: S-D-Q. Pattern: tə-S-D-i-Q). confirmation.

Would you mind to find meaning of words given below whenever you have time? All of them are arabic loanwords and they follow rules of arabic grammar:

müzakirə (root: Z-K-R. Pattern: mü-Z-a-K-i-R-ə)

müsadirə (root: S-D-R. pattern: same as above)

münaqişə (can you find root and pattern?)











İn addition to these, there are words that might be confusing to you though they have no connection to one another. The words səhər (arabic word? - not sure), şəhər (persian word) təpər (turkic), təhər (arabic) might be some.

Ok, I hope it is not too much for you.

Good luck!

Ms. Colleen said...

This is really fascinating. I think Hebrew works the same way that Arabic does, though what do I know. I really wish I could find an etymological dictionary of Azerbaijani in the current Latin script. Anyway, your comments are very helpful. I will post now about the new words in your list.