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Well, this has been a funny discussion so far.
English has a lot of words that are spelt the same but have different meanings. We know what they mean by the context (or if we are unsure we can ask for clarity).
For instance, no one has brought up yet, that "familiar" is also a demon that often takes form as a witch's black cat. The demon needs a familiar structure (uma estrutura familiar é o gato preto).
A "familiar structure" in Portuguese might translate better as, well known, routine, or comfortable situation (Bem conhecido, rotina, ou situação confortável).
Or, it might mean: construção familiar, casa familiar, edifício familiar, estrutura de frase portuguesa familiar, quadro familiar, armação familiar, chassi familiar, organização familiar, esqueleto familiar... or use other words such as íntimo, conhecido, habitual to convey a similar feeling.
Does "uma estrutura familiar" mean: A. a physical building in which to live, e.g. a house or apartment? or B. structured family life, i.e. loving father and mother (and/or siblings) who provide a structured environment in which to grow as a person?
If it's choice A, then I think "a family structure" is a good translation. If it's choice B, then I think "family structure" without the article makes more sense.
In the US, we use "family structure" to mean an environment with parental figures who can provide love, guidance, care, discipline, etc. It doesn't have to be mother and father since others can serve as parental figures, but the structure of family has to be present. Sometimes children are removed from a biological family because it doesn't provide the proper environment, in which case it is considered a "dysfunctional family".
That's a difficult question to answer. In Portuguese, as in French, there are a number of adjectives that have a different meaning depending on whether they are placed before or after the noun. You simply have to memorize them, but they are typically very common adjectives like new and old. There are lists of them online and I imagine that Portuguese as a Romance language operates much the same way. I would recommend checking the "Hacking Portuguese" site and looking at the real-world examples in the collected texts of the "Corpus" that Lauren provides a link to.
No, I'd say "a familiar structure" is also correct. 'Uma estrutura comum' would mean "an ordinary/common structure", which is different;
- Comum (ordinary/common) = something frequent in the environment/society, as opposed to being rare
- Familiar (familiar) = something well know, in this case to "her" (the subjective of the sentence).
Even though something might be very common in society, it can still be unfamiliar to this person, and the other way around; Eating cloudberries is not THAT common (at least not in all geographies), but is very familiar to me, as I come from a place where they grow all over the place.
As you say, we have two distinct adjectives: family (or familial) and familiar which mean two different things. Portuguese uses the same word "familiar" for both those meanings. See: http://dictionary.reverso.net/portuguese-english/familiar.
Well...sorry, but you asked "A familiar structure is accepted as correct which is wrong isn't it? Wouldn't that be uma estrutura comum, usual?", which had 2 parts to it that I attempted to answer;
- No, I don't think it's wrong, and
- No, I don't think 'comum' would give that meaning.
What you now ask is already answered by Davu; "Yes", the word 'familiar' can have both meanings.
Without being an etymologist (and not even native in English), I would say it's likely that English 'familiar', meaning something well known/acquainted/accustomed, is also originating from the same place as 'family', i.e. from the Latin noun 'familia', which in turn comes from 'famulus' (meaning 'servant'). In general, the Latin 'famulus' does not really relate to a group of individuals biologically related or dwelling together, which would more typically be 'domus' (ref. modern English 'domestic' etc.)
Since 'familiar' is used in English to express that something is well known, but the same is not applying to the Germanic languages, I guess this is something English got from Latin during the Roman visit to the island.
Maybe she does need a family, uma «família» but for whatever reason doesn't have one. So, the word "family" in this phrase is an adjective that describes the kind of structure that she needs and «familiar» is the Portuguese translation for that adjective. I was confused by it at first because I thought the adjective would be •«familial» because there's one like it in English and French.
No... "Familiar" is the Portuguese translation for "family", both adjective and noun. The issue here is that no one has said what the Portuguese word for "Familiar" is. Familiar, the English word, as in "That man looks familiar".
How would you say that sentence in Portuguese? And how would you say "They have a familial relationship", in Portuguese?
So far, I have determined that
Family = Familiar - She needs a family structure/ ela precisa de uma estrutura familiar Familiar = Familiar - He looks familiar/ele parece familiar
Familial = Familiar - They have a familial relationship/eles tem uma relacao familiar
But I'm not sure if that's correct, because it seems odd for three different words to have one equivalent word in Portuguese... It would make translation very ambiguous.