False friends (inside a language)

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by kusurija, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. kusurija

    kusurija Senior Member

    Lithuania, K. city
    Lithuania Czech
    Hi, all there!
    In slavic languages, there is a thread "False friends...". There is discusion about false friends between pairs of languages.
    Here I'd like to discuss about similar, but another theme: inside of any language are also "false friends" where e.g. if you make word of female gender from another of male gender (or by another scheme of derivating), You may get not corresponding means (=false friends). For example in:
    In Czech:
    had (a snake)
    hadice ((water) hose) (feminine made from "had");
    beran (ram)
    beranice (fur cap) (feminine made from "beran") (where oposite sex is "ovce")
    dálný - dálnice (far - highway) (not false, but truly friends)
    silný (strong)
    silnice (road)
    rukáv (sleeve)
    rukavice (glove(s))
    Or in Lithuanian:
    karvė (cow)
    karvelis (pidgeon) (diminutive of karvė - masculinum)
    (where calf is veršis).
    I hope You'll find much more examples - all inside the same language, not between pairs of languages. ;)
  2. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Do false friends in different dialects count?
  3. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    In Finnish we don't have genders but we have a complicated declension (and conjugation) of words. Some words in declensional form are similar to other words in basic form (nominative).

    For example taimi (seedling, young plant) is in genitive form taimen (seedling's). But taimen is also trout, salmon trout, in basic form; in genitive form it's taimenen. These two words are often mistaken by city people who don't know much about plants and fish.
  4. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    Is this what you mean?

    o ponto - the point, the dot
    a ponta - the tip

    cobra - snake
    cobra - he/she/it charges

    cobre - copper
    cobre - he/she/it charge (subjunctive)

    manga - mango
    manga - sleeve

    veio - he/she/it came
    veia - vein

    carteiro - mailman
    carteira - mailwoman
    carteira - wallet
    carteira - desk

    bolsa - purse
    bolso - pocket

    olho (closed o) - eye
    olho (open o) - I look

  5. kusurija

    kusurija Senior Member

    Lithuania, K. city
    Lithuania Czech
    Yes, of course, if it is not different language..
    excelent example, thank You very much, that is, what I had in my mind for this thread!
    Beautiful examples in Portuguese, Jazyk, thank You too.

    So some more examples in Czech:
    čep - tap
    čepec - reticulum(Latin) honeycomb/bonnet (veterinary term)
    čepec - bonnet, cap
    čepice - hat

    rovník - equator
    rovnice - equation
    (in Engilish it seems to be similar to false friens, too)
    jelen - deer(he), hart
    jelenice - chamois leather
    (cf. she of deer=doe - laň!)

    Is these words pronounced in different way? If not, so it is simply homonyma and I thing that in every language such homonyms are too much to discuss it in THIS thread (sorry). :)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2015
  6. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    No, they are pronounced in the same way.

  7. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    There are several examples in Portuguese where a word with the masculine suffix -o has a very different meaning from the word with the feminine suffix -a. We talked here in the forum a while ago about bando and banda. Not all of these pairs are due to gender switches, though. Sometimes it's just convergent evolution of unrelated words.

    There was a funny poem about how the meaning of words changes from masculine to feminine that I once read, but I can't seem to find it. :(

    And here's another one in Spanish: soldado (soldier) versus soldada (wage).
  8. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    Since there are no genders in Hungarian I cannot participate now. :(
  9. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    There are many word pairs in Finnish that have a similar-looking stem (at least to a non-native speaker) but aren't etymologically related. In some cases, the different words in each pair could even (based on their appearance) be related through an existing morphological process: for example,

    väri "color" < the same source as Swedish färg
    väristä "shiver" < possibly onomatopoeic

    (-ista is a common verb suffix: cf. julki- "public" -> julkaista "publish")

    varsi, varte- "stem, stalk" < the same source as Estonian vars, Mari wŭrδo
    "guard" < a Germanic source related to Eng. ward, warden, etc.

    (-io is a common noun suffix: cf. yksi "one" -> yhtiö "company")

    This has nothing to do with grammatical gender (which is lacking in Finnish, as Hakro pointed out 5 years ago), but it seems to fall nicely within the topic of the thread title ("False friends inside of language").
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
  10. francisgranada Senior Member

    I think the following Hungarian example fits the criteria:

    - beast
    baromfi (literally beast's son) - poultry
  11. AquisM Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Well, in Chinese, many words are divided into two components, semantic and phonetic. The phonetic component gives a sense of the pronunciation of the word, while the semantic one is related to its meaning. Thus, there are many words that look similar but have no relation at all in terms of meaning.

    For example: 青 (Cantonese: tsing - green/turquoise) is the phonetic component of many words, such as 請 (tsing - request), 情 (tsing - emotion/feeling), 清 (tsing - clear/translucent), 倩 (sin - handsome), 精 (zing - essence/sperm) etc., but the different semantic components (language, heart, water, man and rice respectively) gives an idea of the meaning. This is most likely considered a quirk of the language rather than false friends, but I'm just putting it out there for anyone who's interested.

Share This Page