False friends always hide pitfalls: this is what happens when a word seems to be what it really is not! It is the classic banana peel because “false friends” are perhaps the most common trap in translations. Parent that recalls “relatives”, Factory that reminds “the farm” … … the list could be very long!
Which do you think are the most common? Here is a list of 15 false friends we make when we translate from English into other languages.
- FALSE FRIENDS LIST – Independent which translates as independent, liberty with freedom. But does it always work like this? It would be very easy and we could all say with pride that we know English perfectly. Unfortunately, however, this is a strategy that counts for less than zero. And above all it is true for very few words. So what are the most frequent mistakes we make when we translate or talk? Let’s look at some examples and the correct translation: the errors commonly called False Friends can help you learn English correctly!
- PARENTS: PARENTS – It is a very common mistake, derived precisely from a linguistic assonance. It is immediate to translate relatives, but obviously it is an error because the word parents indicates parents and not all family members.
- LIBRARY: LIBRARY – And certainly not a bookstore! In English the library translates as bookshop, therefore library, despite the similarity with the word in other language has a different meaning, despite being associated with books.
- COMICS: COMICS: It is not comical, even if some comics are really funny … this does not mean that the meaning is different, so it must be used in the right context.
- COLD: COLD – It is a word that immediately makes you think of the heat but that means exactly the opposite!
- EVENTUALLY: AT THE END – For those unfamiliar with the English language this word is associated with other thing, with the meaning of “possibly”. But it is not the adverb, but its true meaning is “in the end”.
- AUDIENCE: PUBLIC – This is a word that has now entered the law especially in television language. Often we talk about audiences to indicate how much audience has witnessed a given broadcast. Therefore, it certainly does not mean hearing, which in English is called hearing.
- EDUCATED: COLTO- It is not exactly the term to indicate an educated person, but a well-educated, cultured person. Educated to translate with polite.
- FACTORY: INDUSTRY – The farm instead translates into the word farm.
- EDITOR: EDITOR – The publisher therefore translates as publisher, while the editor, for the English language, is a curator, an editor!
- SUMMER: PROPERTY – It is a term that refers to real estate properties for example, and for no reason in the world should it be associated with the summer season! It is therefore not another word to indicate a desire for a holiday and a big one!
- LUNATIC: MAD – Seriously crazy! And not one who stands up with a crooked moon. In Italian the term lunatico (in English moody) refers to a type of character!
- NOVEL: ROMANZO – Not a story, but a real novel.
- PUZZLE: ROMPICAPO / ENIGMA – For us, instead, it is a game to pass the time: compose an image by reconstructing it with tiny bits.
- BASKETBALL: BASKETBALL – The sport of basketball is called basketball, even if in fact the ball is stuffed into a real basket!
- ATTIC: CEILING – We easily understand the difference between an attic and an attic, right?