false friends

Elvus

Member
It came to my mind to create a thread concerning the 'false friends' including all the languages. Maybe the name of false friends is not appropriate for them in this case because rather no e.g. Russian learning Spanish would be mistaken if accidentally some Spanish word sounds the same as some Russian one. But it's interesting, anyway. Perhaps we would call it 'the words which are written the same way in totally different - often very far from each other - languages but mean something completely unalike'. On the other hand it's probably hard to have any knowledge of such words for usually we come across them by chance and only if we understand a little the foreign language we find such word in. But I'll start with one example to show what I mean:

matka
- Finnish: 'journey', Polish (and some other Slavic languages) 'mother'

An example from life:
At middle school I had a rather grumpy religion teacher who was much disliked by the class. One day the topic of lesson was 'Mother'. Of course the final target of discussion was the Blessed Virgin. But we started from scratch. Mrs. H. had written 'MOTHER' on the blackboard and each of us was supposed to stand up, come to the blackboard and write a word we associate with the 'mother'. Then, I whispered to my fellow I was sitting with: 'Matka' is 'a journey' in Finnish. Everyone started coming to the board and writing: 'gentleness', 'love', 'caring' and so on. It came my fellow's turn. He rose up and said Matka is also 'a journey' in Finnish... The whole class dismayed, the teacher stood silently with anger in her eyes, and my fellow went to write on the blackboard 'JOURNEY (IN FINNISH)'. That was a fascinating experience showing what advantages give us the knowledge of languages, that was indeed. :D

It may be not very funny or even pathetic when looked on from an objective perspective but you know... Anyway, if you find the thread stupid, silly or anyhow undeserving existence, don't hesitate to close it. ;)
 
  • Rallino

    Moderatoúrkos
    Turkish
    No I don't find it stupid :) I don't have any examples but one, at this hour though ^^

    The most common Turkish false friend, I think, is: apartman

    English: appartment, French: appartement, Italian: appartamento...

    In all these languages, this word means: a flat; while in Turkish it means an entire residential building with many flats. Turks who study English usually fail at using this word. ^^
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    It would be interesting to find triple false friends, I mean 1 word and 3 or more different meanings in different languages.
    Like the word: kar. :)

    kiss (English) - kiss (wee-wee in Swedish) - Kiss (very common family name in Hungarian)
     
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    Rallino

    Moderatoúrkos
    Turkish
    Well, there are more dangerous ones. For example, when I'd heard the Hungarian expression for "good luck" : sok sikert, I was shocked, and burst into laughing. Sok sikert in Turkish means: 'put it in and start f.cking' (litterally). Although the pronunciation of "s" differs, the overall similarity is quite surprising!
     

    sakvaka

    Senior Member
    How about tenfold false friends? ;)

    ei
    Nahuatl: three
    Dutch: egg
    Finnish: he doesn't / no
    Kott: pine
    Mandarin: desire, want
    Romanian: they
    Scots: eye
    Norwegian: one
    Armenian: you were
    Japanese: ray (fish)
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Well, there are more dangerous ones. For example, when I'd heard the Hungarian expression for "good luck" : sok sikert, I was shocked, and burst into laughing. Sok sikert in Turkish means: 'put it in and start f.cking' (litterally). Although the pronunciation of "s" differs, the overall similarity is quite surprising!
    wow, that's really interesting. Would you please analyse the Turkish collocation, I know no Turkish. But maybe you could find some false friends if you know some Hungarian.
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Tenfold false friends. As easy as pie! ;)

    far
    1. English = remote in place
    2. Albanian = lighthouse
    3. Danish = father
    4. Esperanto = by
    5. Faroese = drive, tour
    6. Hungarian = buttocks
    7. Italian = short form of fare
    8. Maltese = mouse
    9. Scottisch Gaelic = where
    10.Turkish = headlight; eye shadow
     

    Rallino

    Moderatoúrkos
    Turkish
    wow, that's really interesting. Would you please analyse the Turkish collocation, I know no Turkish. But maybe you could find some false friends if you know some Hungarian.
    collocation for "good luck", you mean?

    Bol şans, pronunced: Bol sánsz
    or
    İyi şanslar, pronunced: Iji sánszlár

    Other than that, I'll count some more, the format will be:
    the word - Hungarian meaning - Turkish meaning

    Kamu
    - Unreal thing - Public
    Baba
    - baby - father
    Koca - sow (?) - husband
    Cici
    - Breasts - Cute, sweety
    Emel - to lift - Scope, goal
    Harap - to bite - ruined, destroyed
    Pazar - magnificent - Sunday
    Hal - fish - situation
    Fal - wall - Future prediction by looking at one's hands or at his/her coffee remaining
    Dal - song - a tree branch
    Kan - male boar - blood
    Bal - left direction - honey
    El - away - hand
    Ön - you (formal) - front
    Az - that - few

    also:

    Csók
    - Kiss - Very / many (Turkish spelling is çok, but pronunced the same)
    Didim - My tits - a region to the west in Turkey
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Wow, Rallino, I love those false friends, really funny.
    No, I do not know what the wrod sok and sikert mean in Turkish?
     

    Rallino

    Moderatoúrkos
    Turkish
    Wow, Rallino, I love those false friends, really funny.
    No, I do not know what the wrod sok and sikert mean in Turkish?
    sok is the imperative of: sokmak = to penetrate, to squeeze

    sikert is the imperative of a colloquial verb: sikertmek, comes from sikmek = to f..k
     

    Volcano

    Senior Member
    Turkey-Turkish
    artist - one who creates works of art (paintings, sculptures, etc.)

    artist - one who is known as popular, especially in movies (in Turkish)
     

    WondererCarvalho

    Senior Member
    Portugês (Brasil)
    How about tenfold false friends? ;)

    ei
    Nahuatl: three
    Dutch: egg
    Finnish: he doesn't / no
    Kott: pine
    Mandarin: desire, want
    Romanian: they
    Scots: eye
    Norwegian: one
    Armenian: you were
    Japanese: ray (fish)
    I found out that besides Ducth, German, not just have "ei" for egg, but also have this "ei" as "Hey!" or "Oh!" or "Gee!" that they say is not much common nowadays, when I had doubts about uses of "ei" in a lyric.
    Here, my finished thread about uses of "ei" that in that context, I thought it meant "Ich"...

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1759688&highlight=ei+for+ich

    Moreover, "ei" also means "hey!" in Portuguese and I haven't managed to realize that :p. And is written "ei!" in Portuguese!

    Another example from myself, comparing to Portuguese:

    Portuguese: Me:
    (I think in Spanish those meanings are the same as in Portuguese)

    Examples: "Me alcança aquele lápis, por favor!" - "Please, get me that pencil!"
    "Faça-me o favor!/ Me faça o favor!" - "Do me a favor!"

    Norwegian - We (Depending on dialect, I have a thread about it as well
    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1759681&highlight=me+re+vi+er)

    English - me/To me/ at me/ for me
     
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    Elvus

    Member
    Also in Finnish me means 'we'.

    In Polish me is a form of possessive pronoun moje which means 'my' in singular neutrum and in plural, e.g.

    me czyny = moje czyny = my deeds
    me dziecko = moje dziecko = my child

    However, this form might be considered archaic or pompous and it's practically not used in spoken language. Often it's also, let's say, 'phonetically unsuitable' to use me.
     

    Orlin

    Banned
    български
    In Bulgarian as well as Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian ме/me is the enclitic form of the 1st person sg. personal pronoun, accusative case: Той ме вижда./ On me vidi. = He sees me.
     

    WondererCarvalho

    Senior Member
    Portugês (Brasil)
    As Norwegian has "vi" (bokmål) for "we" as well, "vi" in Portuguese means "I've seen" (Pres. Perf.) or "I saw", that is past of verb "ver" (to see). Even its pronounce is the very same.
    In English and German, just to give some examples of false friends:
    Eng:a Port: the (fem)
    Eng:no Port: In the (masc)
    Ger:na Port: in the (fem)
    Ger:nun Eng:well!/now
    Eng: an Ger: about/in/at/by/upon/on
     
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    volkonsky

    Member
    Dutch
    Russian: ковёр (kovyor) doesn't mean 'caviar' but 'carpet'.

    And the Polish translation for 'carpet' is dywan, which is derived from Turkish and refers to a sofa or a couch in most European languages.
     

    enoo

    Senior Member
    French - France
    A few in French, although the pronunciation is often very different (maybe not 3 meanings, but at least more that 3 letters :) ) :
    English pain is the French for bread.
    English coin is the French for corner.
    English chat is the French for cat.
    English bond is the French for leap.
    Finnish lapin (of Lapland) is the French for rabbit.

    (and to give words that were previously mentionned, "me" means "myself" with reflexive verbs, and "far" is a kind of dessert)
     

    Perkele

    Member
    Finland, Finnish
    se
    Finnish: 3rd person singular inanimate
    Spanish: accusative/dative form, 3rd person general

    me
    Finnish: 1st person plural
    Spanish: accusative/dative form, 1st person singular

    te
    Finnish: 2nd person plural
    Spanish: accusative/dative form, 2nd person singular

    su
    Finnish: genetive, 2nd person singular (dialectal)
    Spanish: genetive, 3rd person general
     

    Orlin

    Banned
    български
    Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian:
    - se - a reflexive particle forming reflexive verbs (them same for Bulgarian се);
    - te - enclitic personal pronoun for 2nd person sg., accusative case (=Bulgarian те);
    - su - 3rd person pl. present (enclitic) of the verb "biti" (to be).
     
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    apmoy70

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Greek:
    Nαι (ne): Adverb used to show agreement or acceptance.
    Bulgarian:
    Hе (ne): Adverb used to show disagreement or negation.
    BCS:
    He/Ne: Adverb used to show disagreement or negation.
     

    Elvus

    Member
    rana
    Latin: frog
    Polish: wound

    palik
    Lithuanian: leave! (Imperative)
    Polish: diminutive from pal (pole; stake; picket)

    pas
    Lithuanian: at, to (būti pas draugą - to be at friend's [place], eiti pas draugą - to go to friend's [place])
    Polish: belt
    Croatian: dog

    jojo
    Lithuanian: yo-yo but also 3rd person past form of the verb joti - to ride. (Jis jojo. - He rode.)
    Polish: yo-yo

    meta
    Lithuanian: 3rd person present form of the verb mesti - to throw (Jis meta. - He throws.)
    Polish: finish

    puola
    Lithuanian: 3rd person present form of the verb pulti - to fall (Jėzus puola trečią kartą. - Jesus falls for the third time.)
    Finnish: Polish [language], Puola = Poland

    katu
    Finnish: street
    Basque: cat
    Polish: dative case of the noun kat - executioner

    can
    English: can
    Galician: dog

    hunt
    English: hunt
    Yiddish: dog

    tie
    English: tie
    Finnish: road
    Lithuanian: these (masculine)

    verda
    Esperanto & Ido: green
    Lithuanian: 3rd person present form of the verb virti - to cook, to boil.

    teka
    Lithuanian: 3rd person present form of the verb tekėti - to flow
    Polish: augmentative from teczka (briefcase; folder)


    Enough for now. :)
     

    niernier

    Senior Member
    Bicol & Filipino
    Some classic examples of Filipino-Spanish false friends:

    seguro in Tagalog means "maybe" (In Spanish it means "sure")
    siempre in Tagalog means "of course" (In Spanish it means "always")
    firmi in Chavacano/Bicolano means "always" (In Spanish it means "firm/steady")

    I'm sure there are other false friends out there but these are the most popular ones.
     

    Favara

    Senior Member
    Catalan - Southern Val.
    cama: Catalan leg, "let's go"; Spanish bed.
    fart: English fart; Catalan tired; Swedish speed.
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    -
    Swedish
    Rata
    Finnish: railroad track
    Swedish: scorn

    Sota
    Finnish: war
    Swedish: to soot

    Made
    Finnish: burbot (a fish)
    English: made

    Maila
    Finnish: stick, club
    Swedish: to e-mail

    Sork
    Swedish: vole
    Gutamål: boy (Gutamål is the dialect on the Swedish island of Gotland)

    Sur
    French: on
    Swedish: acid, sour

    Hot
    Swedish: threat
    English: hot
     
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    In Vino Veritas

    New Member
    italiano
    MÉTER NÉLKÜL (hungarian) Without a meter...a bad word in italian.
    Katso merta (finnish) Look at the sea...a bad word in italian.
    КАК ДЕЛА(russian) how are you...a bad word in italian.
    KUL RÖTT (swedish) cool red...a bad word in italian.
    etc etc etc
     

    apmoy70

    Senior Member
    Greek
    se
    Finnish: 3rd person singular inanimate
    Spanish: accusative/dative form, 3rd person general
    Greek: Weak form of 2nd person sing. personal pronoun in accusative «σε»

    me
    Finnish: 1st person plural
    Spanish: accusative/dative form, 1st person singular
    Greek: Weak form of 1st person sing. personal pronoun in accusative «με»

    su
    Finnish: genetive, 2nd person singular (dialectal)
    Spanish: genetive, 3rd person general
    Greek: Weak form of 2nd person sing. personal pronoun in genitive «σου»
     

    Favara

    Senior Member
    Catalan - Southern Val.
    A few more with Catalan and Spanish:

    acostar CAT: to approach; ES: to lie down.
    cebar CAT: to add onions (when cooking); ES: to prime, to bait, to feed, to stoke, to cram.
    colgar CAT: to bury; ES: to hang.
    escoltar CAT: to listen; ES to escort, to guard.
    jueves CAT: jew women; ES: thursday.
    prima CAT: lean woman; ES: cousin (fem.).
    pudor CAT: stink; ES: modesty.
    tasca CAT: task; ES: pub.
     

    sakvaka

    Senior Member
    Some more between Swedish and English.

    tall (pine)
    full (of a thing: full, of a person: drunk)
    gift (married/poison)
    vrist (ankle)
    kock (chef)
    chef (boss)
    fan (fan/c*nt)
    fart (speed)
    fack (compartment)
    gem (paperclip)
    glass (ice cream)
    lake (a kind of fish)
    personal (personell)
    smäll /'smell/ (blow)
    pregnant (packed with meaning; pithy)
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    This thread is for franknagy who have been cofusing coincidences and false friends

    Hungarian "eleven" means "vivid", "living" not 11 as in English.
    HU "ragad" verb. "It is sticking" <--> EN "rugged".
    HU "liszt"=flour EN "list" RU "лист"= leav(es).
    HU "kasza" = scythe RU "коса" = ponytail.
    HU "más" = other SP "más" =but, more.
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Finnish pois "away"
    Portuguese pois "because, whereas"
    French pois "pea"

    English no
    Finnish no "well ..."
    Portuguese no "in/on the [+ masc. singular noun]"
    Greek "we two"

    Finnish typpi "nitrogen"
    Icelandic typpi "button, knob"

    Spanish (and other Romance langs.) "you" (singular), tu "your"
    Slovenian tu "here"
    Welsh tu "side"
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I think there are millions of false friends and I personally do not find this thread interesting at all unlike the "coincidences" thread which is fascinating....
     

    ilocas2

    Banned
    Czech
    Hungarian liszt - flour

    Czech list - leaf

    The most famous Hungarian composer Ferenc Liszt was Ferenc Flour
     

    涼宮

    Senior Member
    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    Japanese - Spanish

    Kasa (umbrella) - casa (house)

    まりこ Mariko (female name*) - marico (gay)

    No (possessive particle, explicative particle) - no (not/don't/non)

    te (hand) - té/te (tea, thee)

    かま kama (iron pot, furnace, sickle) - cama (bed)

    ke (hair) - que/qué (that, what)

    mono (thing, object) - mono (monkey)

    マンコ manko (pussy, cunt -genital-) - manco (one-armed person, amputee)

    ここ koko (here) - coco (coconut, col. head)

    伸せ nose (stretch!) - no sé (I don't know)

    kome (rice) - come, ¡come! (s/he eats, eat!)

    緯度/井戸 ido (latitude, water well), ido (gone)

    In German kochen means to cook but in Spanish it means they grab/take/fuck

    In Ukrainian and Serbo-Croatian tata means dad but in English it's one of the many ways to say boob, though I've always seen the word in the plural form, tatas.


    *If I remember it's also a female name in Italy, though the spelling would differ.
     
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    810senior

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    These cases, put down by same Chinese characters but having different meanings.
    That's what I have ever heard of.


    Japanese:手紙 a letter
    Chinese:手紙 toilet paper
    *手=hand, 紙=paper

    Japanese:愛人 a lover (the partner who you have sex with in particular)
    Korean:愛人 a girlfriend/boyfriend
    *愛=love, 人=man, person

    Japanese:来日 coming to Japan
    Chinese:来日 future
    Korean:来日 tomorrow
    *来=to come, 日=day

    Japanese:湯 hot water
    Chinese:湯 soup
    *湯=boiling water, decoction
     
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    涼宮

    Senior Member
    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    Suka

    It means bitch in Russian, Slovak and Polish, to vomit in Tagalog, brush in Finnish, to like in Indonesian and Malay, and to shake in Swahili. Such a versatile word :D.
     

    Ghabi

    AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod
    Cantonese
    I think Japanese-Chinese false friends can be divided into "character false friends" and "word false friends". The former, when spelled out, will lose their hypocrisy instantly (I use the Cantonese form for Chinese):

    CharactersChinese wordJapanese word
    tong1 "hot water (classical); soup (modern)"yu "hot water"
    手紙sau2zi2 "hand-paper"-->"toilet paper"tegami "hand-paper"-->"letter"

    The latter are words which are etymologically related (i.e. the Japanese words are composed of Sino-Japanese morphemes), for example:

    CharactersChinese wordJapanese word
    大丈夫dai6zoeng6fu1 "a macho man"daijōbu "fine; okay; not injured"
    人間jan4gaan1 "human world"ningen "human beings"
    皮肉pei4juk6 "physical; carnal"hiniku "sarcasm"
    勉強min5koeng5 "barely; reluctantly"benkyō "study"

    The strange thing is, false friends can become real ones.

    CharactersChinese wordJapanese word
    覺(覚)悟gok3ng6 "to be enlightened; awakened"kakugo "mental readiness"

    In recent years I've noticed that gok3ng6 is more and more used in the Japanese sense. Perhaps in the beginning the usage was only found among Japanophiles, serving as a kind of shibboleth, but the usage has apparently spread, and is nowadays used by those who don't know Japanese at all.
     
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    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Suka

    It means bitch in Russian, Slovak and Polish, to vomit in Tagalog, brush in Finnish, to like in Indonesian and Malay, and to shake in Swahili. Such a versatile word :D.
    Although I don't think it belongs to the false friends category but to add another word to your list: szuka (sz pronounced as the s in English) means a female dog in Hungarian and also used as a derogatory term for a woman ("a lower value female thing"..., there are several different shades to its usage).
     

    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    I would also like to add that Liszt Ferenc (see in wiki) was a Hungarian composer, I suppose partly on the basis that he himself considered himself to be and that he was born in Western Hungary.
     
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