muñeca and then muñeca, 2 different meanings | SpanishDict Answers
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I see that the word for wrist is the same as the word for doll. How would I tell someone that "I broke my wrist or I broke my doll" so that they know which I am talking about? To me, it looks like it would be said exactly the same way. People would know by looking at my arm what I am saying, but what if I am on the phone? I am sure there is a way to word it so that the other person knows which I am saying. Could someone explain to me how this would be done'

  • Posted Dec 31, 2008
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7 Answers

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Doll can be either muñeca or muñeco, but wrist is always the feminine muñeca.

It is extremely common for a single word to have two (or more) distinct meanings in one language, and for those meanings each to be covered by a different word in another language. Off the top of my head, "lock" can be a door lock (cerradura) or a ship lock (esclusa). A Spanish speaker might wonder how we can tell the difference, but you know that we have no trouble at all. The magic of context makes it all clear.

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:

How would I tell someone that "I broke my wrist or I broke my doll" so that they know which I am talking about?

Very simple: because our constructions are not like in English. We'd never say "I broke MY wrist", but "To me, the wrist broke".

Me rompí la muñeca - I broke my wrist
Rompí mi muñeca - I broke my doll
Rompí la muñeca - I broke the doll

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Very simple: because our constructions are not like in English. We'd never say "I broke MY wrist", but "To me, the wrist broke".

Yes, that applies in this particular context, but I thought Wendy was asking a more general question about how we can differentiate the meanings of one Spanish word that has two English equivalents. It just so happens that the constructions are different in the case of romper. On the other hand, for example, if she had asked instead about how to say "Look at my wrist" and "Look at my doll," the answer would not be so easy, because both would be "Mira mi muñeca." That's why I said that it is context that makes the meaning clear. The word muñeca is not at all unusual in this respect, and this situation occurs in every language pair in the world.

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Yes, context is paramount in either language, but if you take a doll to show it to someone and say "Mira mi muñeca", no one will be weird enough to push the doll aside to look at your wrist. However, if you say on the phone "I broke my wrist/doll", and the word is the same, you'll surely have to provide more context to clarify what do you mean, and in this case the syntactic differentiation I mentioned before comes handy.

People who are learning English as a second language also wonders about things like these. I still remember a conversation we had about "tear"...

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Thank you boys. Both answers helped very much. James, as usual knew what was going through my mind. You are very perceptive, not to mention intelligent. You and Lazarus amaze me everyday with your intelligence. I thoroughly enjoy reading a response from people who quite skilled when it comes to grammar and spelling. I do bow to the masters. grin

James Santiago said:

Very simple: because our constructions are not like in English. We'd never say "I broke MY wrist", but "To me, the wrist broke".

Yes, that applies in this particular context, but I thought Wendy was asking a more general question about how we can differentiate the meanings of one Spanish word that has two English equivalents. It just so happens that the constructions are different in the case of romper. On the other hand, for example, if she had asked instead about how to say "Look at my wrist" and "Look at my doll," the answer would not be so easy, because both would be "Mira mi muñeca." That's why I said that it is context that makes the meaning clear. The word muñeca is not at all unusual in this respect, and this situation occurs in every language pair in the world.

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Lazarus wrote:
People who are learning English as a second language also wonders about things like these. I still remember a conversation we had about "tear"...

My younger son, who is seven, is improving his reading skills, and I have him read to me every day. A couple of days ago he came across the word lead (plomo), and he read it correctly. I asked him how he knew it wasn't lead (dirigir), and he said, "I don't know. I just knew."

Ah, to be able to learn a language like a child...

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This happens to me a lot.I have t no idea how I know this or that. But one of my reasons for "hitting" this forum is to learn the "how and whys "of the Spanish language.The other day some one wrote something in the forum, I did not knew why it was wrong, it was worse when sheh asked me to explain why she was wrong, I did not knew how to explain it.Thank God one of the members explained it very well.

James Santiago said:

Lazarus wrote:People who are learning English as a second language also wonders about things like these. I still remember a conversation we had about "tear"...My younger son, who is seven, is improving his reading skills, and I have him read to me every day. A couple of days ago he came across the word lead (plomo), and he read it correctly. I asked him how he knew it wasn't lead (dirigir), and he said, "I don't know. I just knew."Ah, to be able to learn a language like a child...

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