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Hi all,

Can you remind me what the name is for the situation when a word in one language looks like another word in another language, but they're not translations for each other?

There was a thread with "embarrassed" instead of "pregnant" because the Spanish word for pregnant looks like "embarrassed."

I know that French librarie looks like library, but it's bookstore, and banane looks like banana but it's pineapple.

What are these "false twins" called? I'm sure I've seen the word for it somewhere, but I can't remember what it is.

Would it be fun to post them in this tread?
Comments  
Homonym, homophone?
Hi,
Perhaps you mean 'false friends'.

Look here for details.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_friends

Clive
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Grammar Geek the situation when a word in one language looks like another word in another language, but they're not translations for each other?
false cognate The French sometimes call them "faux amis". Some of them are truly cognates, i.e., derived historically from the same archaic words; many of them are similarities of pure coincidence.

éxito (Sp.) = success, not exit.
constipado (Sp.) = (nasally) congested, not constipated.
éventuellement (Fr.) = possibly, not eventually.
foule (Fr.) = crowd, not fool.
depressa (Port.) = in a hurry, not depressed.
Lump (Germ.) = riffraff, beggar, not lump.
Hang (Germ.) = slope, not hang.
scolo (It.) = drain pipe, not school.

You can find lists of these by the hundreds in various textbooks.

CJ
Thank you.

It sounds a bit classier in French, doesn't it?

I'm sure there are several humorous stories about the resulting mis-translations when someone made an assumption instead of looking it up.
banane looks like banana but it's pineapple.

I'm pretty sure that "banane" in French is, in fact, banana, and "ananas" is pineapple. (Though I guess you could say that "ananas" looks like "bananas".)
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You're right.

I remembered only that I was confused, but not the correct source of my confusion. To be fair, French class was almost 30 years ago now Emotion: smile

However, thanks to our friend Google, you have the proof you need to say "Geez Barb, as you get older, your memory is failing, isn't it?"


un ananaspineapple
une bananebanana

I remember librarie and bibliotheque confused me then too.

Actually, "banane" means banana and "ananas" means pineapple.
You can add "actually" to the list of false cognates because "actuellement" in French means "currently," not "in fact."
I got a newsletter today from a company we use for translations and it had an article on this.

It had a link to a BBC site that has examples of mistakes people have made: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/yoursay/false_friends.shtml

These aren't just English-Language X errors, but all sorts of Language X-Language Y errors.

Having your portrait painted nu in Dutch is very different from having it painted nu in French. (Now, versus naked.)
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