False Friends

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What an unbelievable coincidence!

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Not only do Poland and Indonesia have exactly the opposite meaning for some words, their flags are opposites as well! ‘Tak’ means ‘no’ in Indonesian and ‘yes’ in Polish. imagine how this difference that could become very awkward, even complicated in mistranslation.

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Words in different languages that look or sound similar but differ significantly in meaning are called “false friends.” Words like these can lead to miscommunications with speakers of other languages that are weird, confusing, and hilarious. At Dino Lingo, with our team handling over 52 languages laugh all day long with pronunciation similarities. For example, the German word ‘womit’ meaning ‘by which’ is pronounced like the English word ‘vomit’ and this confusion for early language learners can be used to an advantage through word associations. Humor is a great way for everyone to learn.

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The Spanish word embarazada is another good example of a false friend.  Embarazada sounds very close to the English word embarrassed, but actually means pregnant.

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Many Spanish students will come across this “friend” at some point. Even professionals can miss it sometimes-  this mistake was made by a pen company whose Spanish advertisements for ballpoint pens translated to: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

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German and English in particular have a ton of language frienemies to watch out for.

Several English words with very different German meanings:

bald – soon

herb – bitter, harsh;

fast- almost

Mist – dung

Gift – poison

I think for any relationship to be successful,there needs to be loving communication,appreciation, and understanding.

-Miranda Kerr

If you know of any others, we would love to hear from you! Please tag and comment on our Instagram feed to let us know.

Thank you for visiting us.

The Dino Lingo Team

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