[This entry is taken from a chapter of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]
Fungi: Eng. fungal and Sp. fúngico/a
English has derived the adjective fungal [ˈfʌŋɡəɫ] from the noun fungus [ˈfʌŋɡəs] by addition of the Latinate adjectival suffix ‑al, equivalent to the scientific Latin adjective fŭngālis (1845): fŭng‑(us) +‑āl‑ → fŭng‑āl‑(is). The Latin adjective seems to have been created first in the first half of the 19th century and Eng. fungal is probably a loan of that newly-minted Latin word word (OED). The meaning of fungal is simply ‘connected with or caused by a fungus’ (LDCE). The adjective fungal is not an everyday word, though it is probably not unknown to most speakers of English. It is most commonly found in the expression fungal infection.
Spanish has not adopted its own version of that New Latin adjective. Instead, it has created an adjective using the other Latinate suffix that derived adjectives from nouns, namely ‑ico/a (from Lat. ‑ĭc‑us/a), resulting in the adjective fúngico/a [ˈfuŋxico] from the same Latin root fŭng‑. This word, however, is probably less common than Eng. fungal since it is only used as a technical term in mycology (see below), as in the expression vegetación fúngica ‘fungal vegetation’ (Larousse). A more common way to translate the English adjective fungal is with a modifying prepositional phrase with the noun hongo(s), as in infección de hongos or infección por hongos ‘fungal infection’. Yet another alternative translation of Eng. fungal in medicine would is the adjective micótico/a as in infección micótica ‘fungal infection’. This word is derived from the Ancient Greek word for ‘fungus’ and ‘mushroom’, namely μύκης (múkēs), a word that we will explore below, since both English and Spanish have words derived from it.
More common than the adjective fungal in English is perhaps the derived adjectival antonym antifungal, formed with the Greek prefix ἀντι‑ (anti‑) ‘against’, as in antifungal drug or antifungal chemotherapy. In Spanish, the equivalent word antifúngico/a, derived from fúngico/a, has indeed been used in the past, with the same meaning as Eng. antifungal, but it is a much less common word than its English counterpart. One Spanish dictionary that mentions this word it is Clave, which gives the example Este medicamento tiene propiedades antifúngicas ‘This drug has antifungal properties’ (Clave). Another dictionary that mentions it is Vox, which gives the example tratamiento antifúngico ‘antifungal treatment’. As in the case of this word’s antonym, a more common way to translate Eng. antifungal into everyday Spanish, however, would perhaps be contra los hongos, as in medicamento contra los hongos ‘antifungal drug’.
Another way to refer to a fungal infection in English is as yeast infection, as in vaginal yeast infection. Spanish would use the same translations for the latter as the ones we already saw for the former, i.e., infección fúngica or infección de hongos. Actually, Sp. hongo also translates other uses of the word yeast, as in hongo de levadura ‘yeast cell’. In English, a fungal infection in the foot caused by the fungus Candida albicans is usually referred to as athlete’s foot. In Spanish, the calque pie de atleta is also used by some, though it is rare. An alternative translation would be hongos del pie, literally ‘foot fungi’.Go to Part 5