False friends a.k.a false cognates

This month we thought our blog post should be on false friends a.k.a[1] false cognates[2]. In life you will come across some false friends, and when speaking a foreign language you’ll encounter them too! And in both cases you can end up looking a bit silly, but at least with a language you’ll get over it quickly and with www.enunciateonline.com you will hopefully avoid making a few mistakes with them.

Now, there is a difference between false friends and false cognates but we won’t bore you with that, what’s important for you is they they both have the same outcome, you can end up with egg on your face! How do you like yours done? 😉 (Look for this idiom on our weekly idiom post on Facebook, Twitter and g+) What we will do is give you a few false friends in English with German and Spanish with English and hopefully you will find them useful.

So let’s begin with some typical false friends in Spanish and English. The first one up is Library. Now in English a library is a building or room with a collection of books whereas “librería” in Spanish is where you go and buy the books, the bookshop, the Spanish equivalent of library is “biblioteca”. So, if you want to study go to the library and if you want to buy the books to “la liberiía”.

The next one up is deception, in English, deception means something that is done to make you believe something that is not true; i.e. “It was all a deception! My English isn’t improving”. Something that we don’t do at enunciateonline, we let you know if you’re really learning English 😉 “decepción” in Spanish means to fail to fulfil your hopes or expectations, the English equivalent is disappoint.   Deception in Spanish is “engaño”.

Finally we have letter. In English a letter can be a written type of communication. (When was the last time you wrote a letter and not an e-mail?)The Spanish equivalent is “carta” whilst in Spanish “una letra” is a letter of the alphabet but can never be “ carta”.

Now lets look at our false friends between English and German. First up we have the word bald, now in English this means to be follicly challenged, like kojak, just google it and you’ll see. 😉 Now in German this means soon whereas bald is   “kahl”. So you can go “Bald Kahl”. 😉

Secondly, we have handy, now in English if something is handy it is useful and convenient, now in German, “handy” is a mobile phone. Yes a mobile is very handy but in German “das handy ist handlich”. Learning English vía Skype is handy and you can learn English on your “Handy”.

Last but not least we have rat, now in English these guys have some very bad press, the plague…etc. but they are very intelligent animals and from things that are intelligent may we can get some of what the word means in German because in German “Rat” means advice. Can you imagine saying ‘Let me give you a piece of “Rat”’. Which part would that be, the tail? Or we are going to have a new “Rat” section on our website. 😉 A rat is “Ratte” in German.

False friends are a tricky thing and they require a lot of study, everyone can be caught out because it’s great to use cognates to learn, as they will always help you to learn much more quickly and comforting to make links between the languages, but you have to be careful and have a teacher point out the false friends that are waiting for you to put your foot in it. But at www.enunciateonline.com we will be more than glad to help you learn these false friends with our English lessons via Skype and get you communicating clearly.



[1] A false cognate is a word that is the same in two languages, they have different meanings but the root of the word is different and, a false friend is a word that has a similar root but has a different meaning in both languages.

[2]A.k.a= Also known as