Welcome to the Adventures

18 June 2009

Language Learning Issues

As most travelers and expats know, language is very important. Maybe you already speak the language of your host country, but some of the words are different, like the difference between American and Australian English. Or maybe you know nothing. Not even "hello", "goodbye" or "please" and "thank you". Language can really make or break your experience because it's so vital to our everyday lives. One small slip up can be the difference between a friendly smile or a cold shoulder.

To make matters worse, many times there are words that you think you know because they appear so similar to your native tongue. But, be careful of these false cognates. Here are some in Spanish as provided by www.spanish.bz.

spanish word

actual english

how to really say
English version


at present actually - la verdad es que
asisistir to attend assist/help - ayudar
carpeta folder carpet - alfombra
chocar to crash choke - ahogar/sofocar
embarazada pregnant embarassed - avergonzado
éxito success exit - salida
largo long large - grande
parientes relatives parents - padres
realizar to actualize realize - darse cuenta
recordar remember record - grabar


sensitive sensible - razonable, sensato


put up with support - mantener
últimamente lately ultimately - al final
vaso drinking glass vase - jarrón

Here are some false cognates in German from www.learnenglishonline.yuku.com.

(D for Deutsch or German, E for English)

D - handy = E - a mobile phone

E - handy = D - handlich

D - Bad = E - bath

E - bad = D - schlecht

D - blamieren = E - embarass

E - blame = D - Schuld

What has your experience been with false cognates? Do you know any embarrassing ones?


Аманда said...

Don't forget the Spanish word molestar. Which means to annoy, not molest.

I can't think of any German false cognates. But I'm sure there are more.

teasinglydiverse said...

Came over from Amanda's blog...what a good post. My brain is all fuzzy still this morning, so for some reason I can only think of 1 "faux ami" - the word "terrible" in French means terrific, great, awesome. It does *not* mean terrible :) There are SO many though...my brain just isn't thinking of them right now.

Abby said...

My students always say "rubber" for eraser which makes me giggle. :)

Lee said...

I remember one from when I started to learn English. "Constipação" means "cold" in Portuguese, so instead of saying they'd caught a cold, beginner learners would tend to say they were "constipated".