Friday, August 15, 2008

False friend: psícico/psychic (adjective)

Psícico: adj. Perteneciente o relativo a las funciones y contenidos psicológicos. (RAE)
Pertaining or relative to psychological function and content.

1. Of, relating to, affecting, or influenced by the human mind or psyche; mental: psychic trauma; psychic energy.
a. Capable of extraordinary mental processes, such as extrasensory perception and mental telepathy.
b. Of or relating to such mental processes.

And from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,
1: of or relating to the psyche : psychogenic
2: lying outside the sphere of physical science or knowledge : immaterial, moral, or spiritual in origin or force
3: sensitive to nonphysical or supernatural forces and influences : marked by extraordinary or mysterious sensitivity, perception, or understanding

What both meanings have in common is the idea of something related to the mind. However, the meaning of the Spanish word doesn't evoke the extrasensory, spiritual connotations of the English word.

I generally find, given the context, that psícico should be translated as "psychological." As for translating "psychic" into Spanish, several dictionaries give "psícico", which I don't find adequate in view of the above definitions. The Oxford does give "para(p)sicológico" which a check of the RAE confirms as an accurate translation.

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At September 18, 2008 8:11 a.m., Blogger ilaria said...

Hello and thank you for this post, which confirmed a doubt I had since long. Indeed, your objections sound pretty familiar to me, as I often experience the same problem in Italian. Generally speaking, I tend to swing between "psichico" and "psicologico" when the term refers to mind/psyche, whereas I prefer to stick to "medianico" (as in "facoltà medianiche") whenever extrasensory phenomena are involved.


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