Question: what are “false friends”?

March 13, 2013 at 4:25 pm

a)   Friends you invite into your home, share precious evenings with, send your favourite YouTube clips before anyone else only for them to shack up with your boyfriend/girlfriend the moment your back is turned. How could they be so cold?

b)   New legal highs that the government are trying to ban.

c)   Words that sound alike in two different languages but have completely different meanings.

The answer is…

c) Words that sound alike in two different languages but have different meanings. And possibly a) too.

Some false friends you may want to watch out for

Spanish:

embarazada – if you are embarrassed in Spanish, something “gives you shame” – te da vergüenza. If you are embarazada, you are pregnant.

molestar – if someone asks if they could take a moment to molestar you in Spanish, don’t worry… it only means “to bother” as opposed to something Jimmy Savile would do. Although he bothered people too…

French:

préservatif – watch out for a préservatif in your food when you are in a French-speaking country as a préservatif is a condom.

excitée – if you are excitée in French, you are sexually aroused. Congratulations!

German:

Gift – if you give someone Gift in German you are giving them the gift of poison.

hell – in German, hell means light. A helles Bier can be heavenly.

Mist – if you see a lovely field covered in Mist, it is covered in crap.

(One of the finest false friends between German and Dutch is klarkommen – in German it means “to be ok”, in Dutch it means “to orgasm”)

Italian:

Genitori – not your genitals but your parents (your parente are your relatives)

Camera – take pictures with your camera in Italian and you will be taking pictures with your bedroom (you take photos with a fotocamera)

 

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