THFalse friends

No-one likes false friends but when we compare the English language to other languages, we find words that look similar but have different meanings; this can lead to embarrassing misunderstandings sometimes! We call these false friends and students at Trebinshun House love to explore these strange differences.

In many languages there is the word actual/actuell and it means now or currently e.g. my actual boss.

In English actual means real or in fact e.g. the actual number was far less than predicted.

A lot of German teenagers go to the gymnasium, which is their upper secondary school. In the UK, a gymnasium is an old word which is describes the modern day gym or fitness centre. One exercises the brain while the other exercises the body!

Confetti in Italian is a sugared almond sweet, whereas in English it is the small pieces of coloured paper that are thrown over the bride and groom when they get married. Italian confetti sounds much more interesting, if not more dangerous!

The German word gift means poison in English. I don’t think I would like that for my birthday!

The Spanish word asistir, which means to attend or be present at something e.g. a meeting. Is often confused with the English to assist, which means to help e.g. Can I assist you in anyway?

If a Spanish woman is embarazada, it means she is pregnant. In English, the similar sounding word embarrassed means that a person is a little ashamed of what they have done. To make things more confusing, if you auto translate embarrassed back into Spanish, it means desconcertada which in turn means confused in English!

These different meanings are confusing but fun, and there are many more to discover. Why don’t you share some of your favourites with us?


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