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My fiancee is French, so I speak French at home almost all the time, even though she is fluent in English. Over the years, we've had some hilarious misunderstandings because of what the French call "faux amis" (false friends). These are words that sound the same in both languages but mean different things.

For example, the French "sensible" means "sensitive". If I say my lady is "being sensible", I mean she's being reasonable... but she might understand something different.

My favourite "oops" was when I used the word "support". In French, I said "Je te support", with the intent of meaning "I support you". Unfortunately, the French verb "supporter" means "to put up with"...!  :speechless:

Has anyone run into any other instances of false friends in their native language and English? I'd love to hear them!

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Sensible and sensitive are shared words in Spanish too, but with different meaning.

A sensitive information refers to the control of access over such information, but in Spanish it could be taken as a "sentimental" or "touching" information, while sensible is in English a way to say something is practical, reasonable or logical, but is Spanish is used in a different context.

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Yeah, there are quite a few between English and Portuguese. Some are just mild differences, especially if the words share the same latin root. Others are more of a coincidence and the meanings are totaly different.

I had already mentioned this one on another topic:

There is one English sounding word that I have seen causing some minor confusion among English speakers and Portuguese speakers, which is the word "puxe". The reason it's so confusing is because it's part of the combination "push/pull" found on many doors throughout the world. Portuguese uses "empurre" for "push", and "puxe" (which sounds exactly like "push") for "pull". You often see English speakers in Portugal pushing doors they're suposed to pull, and Portuguese speakers pulling doors they're supposed to push.

Some other examples coming to mind:

EN: Preservative (food chemical)/PT: Preservativo (condom)

EN: Costume (party clothing item)/PT: Costume (habit)

EN: Fabric (cloth)/PT: Fábrica (factory)

EN: Legend (story)/PT: Legenda (subtitle, annotation)

EN: Injury (wound)/PT: Injúria (insult)

EN: Data (information)/PT: Data (a certain day of the week/month)

EN: Enroll (register, join)/PT: Enrolar (curl-up, wind-up)

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A very dangerous False Friend in French is "Je viens!" when somebody calls at the door and you want to say, "I'm coming!" The correct expression is "J'arrive!

In Spanish I'd say the most common False Friend is the English word "actually" being translated to "actualmente", when really it should be "de veras/ de verdad/ en realidad".

The most dangerous is "constipacion" when you have a cold. Just don't go to a pharmacy in an English speaking country and explain you have constipation when you want something for a cold!

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Wow, how interesting. I guess that means that you shouldn't assume that you understand something. You might find that you don't understand what is being said at all!!

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We should also take into consideration false friends in the context of the different dialects of English we speak. For example some British English words could be taken to be offensive by Americans.

Fag in British English could refer to a cigar while in the U.S and other places it's an an offensive term used to refer to gay people.

Male birds are called cocks.

The word, used out of context before an American audience would be misconstrued as being offensive.

p.s There are other obvious examples no less colorful, but I'll stop here.

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Tagalog is very different from English, so there are no instances like that in my book. However, it's interesting to know that English to French language have identical words that have very different meanings. That can really be confusing.

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Our language is very close to Spanish which I heard is in turn also very close to Italian but even then some words we have that sound similar don't exactly mean the same thing. For example, in Italian, molto means very, so you could use it for increasing value in praise such as saying molto bravo, but in Our language its meaning is ghost so if someone was to say the phrase to us it might sound like someone is happy that a ghost is around.

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Oh my that can get many of us in to trouble and I think every language has that same problem. I can't say that I have made any of those errors that I have been warned about except for one. I was asked once I speak Italian and the reply should have been, "Pocha, pocha" which means a little but instead I replied "Porka porka" which means pig.

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It recently happened to me these days, when I was trying to write a film review in English I was thinking that I was disappointed by the film and my mind went to the word "Deluded" which I confused with the italian "deluso" which means disappointed yet deluded in English means mislead or deceived.

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This is interesting and can go on for many of us I think! Wow, there is caution to be headed when speaking or learning another language as it might get you into trouble and you wouldn't even know why if it is not someone that can tell you that what you said was wrong. Hillarious and awkward at the same time.

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The word Joto means heat in Swahili, but in Spanish, it is a derogatory term referring to homosexuals.  I've encountered this while watching a cartoon show, and the name of that particular character is Joto.  As a result they changed his name to Hot Spot.

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My fiancee is French, so I speak French at home almost all the time, even though she is fluent in English. Over the years, we've had some hilarious misunderstandings because of what the French call "faux amis" (false friends). These are words that sound the same in both languages but mean different things.

For example, the French "sensible" means "sensitive". If I say my lady is "being sensible", I mean she's being reasonable... but she might understand something different.

My favourite "oops" was when I used the word "support". In French, I said "Je te support", with the intent of meaning "I support you". Unfortunately, the French verb "supporter" means "to put up with"...!  :speechless:

Has anyone run into any other instances of false friends in their native language and English? I'd love to hear them!

Yes I have with the swahili language, I kept on speaking direct translation, only to find out that when I said what I meant in English directly in Swahili, it absolutely meant something else.

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Tagalog is very different from English, so there are no instances like that in my book. However, it's interesting to know that English to French language have identical words that have very different meanings. That can really be confusing.

Sidney is right! I don't think there's such a case between English and Tagalog. I'd say this phenomenon is however applicable between our main language Tagalog and a dialect called Cebuano/Bisaya. Below are just two examples

In Cebuano a 'langgam' is an "ANT"; but in Tagalog it's an animal that flies; a BIRD

In Tagalog "nalibang" means having fun; but in Cebuano means "defecating"

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Someone has mention false friends within different dialects on the same language. Some of them are very colorful. The expression "blow a fag" in british english is a good example. In spanish there are just too many, but I'll try to list some:

- Concha: In most spanish speaking countries, it means "shell". In Argentina, it's also a slang for vagina.

- Polla: In most spanish speaking countries, it means "chicken" (female, before turning into a hen, I guess). In spain, it's slang for penis.

- Bicho: In most countries, it means "bug" (any bug, not one in particular). In Puerto Rico, it's a slang for penis.

- Torta: In some spanish speaking countries, it means "cake". In others, particularly in Mexico, it means "patty".

Curiously enough, "cake" in Mexico is called "pastel", yet in Venezuela, "pastel" means "patty".

There are many more. Just remember to be careful with what you say and where you say it  :tongue:

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"Dude" in English actually sounds like one of the coarse languages in Cantonese. Sometimes, when I hear someone said "dude", the first thing comes up into my mind is someone is swearing .It is just funny.HAHA :millionaire: :millionaire:

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The most comical one for me in spanish is  embarazada    which looks like it would be ´embarrassed´  but it means pregnant.

As far as insulting people accidently in spanish, the winner would have to be Estar and Ser.  They are both words that mean  ´is´    estar is for temporary things, while ser is for permanent things.  But there are a lot of time where if you use the permanent form (ser) by mistake, you can really be insulting to the person or vice versa.

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In English, salvage means "to be saved" or "rescued." In the Philippines however, when you hear a newscaster say a family was "salvaged,"  you shouldn't be relieved as for us, it means "murdered/massacred". 

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Some false friends in my language and english:

To annoy: In english is "to disturb", in italian "Annoiare" is "to bore" 

Argument: in english is a "discussion", in italian "Argomento" is a "topic".

Brave: in english is "courageous", in italian "Bravo" means "good" (but this is used in other languages too sometimes, the meaning is this anyway)

Camera: in english is the photographic machine, in italian "camera" is a synonym of "stanza", which means "room".

Fine: in english "i'm fine" is "i'm ok", in italian "fine" is "end"

Parents: in inglish parents are mom and dad, in italian "parenti" are the other relatives, in fact when i studied english i used to confuse these two words :D

Rumor: in english is a "gossip", in italian "Rumore" is a "noise"

Taste: in english is a "flavor", in italian "Tasto" is a "key, button" (like the ones on the pc keybord :D)

Villain: in english is a bad person, in italian "Villano" is "Rude".

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Russian and Polish have tons of false friends, but also between Russian and English there are some words that can be misleading.

Sympathetic:  empathic in English, nice and/or good-looking in Russian

Actual: real in English, up-to-date in Russian

List: a number of items in English, a sheet of paper in Russian

Chef: book in English, boss in Russian :)

Baton: a short tick in English, a type of bread in Russian

Magazine: a type of printed publication in English, a shop in Russian

But of course there are plenty more. It's one of the most exciting things for me when I study - finding the words that look similar but have different meanings.

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