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Sunday, September 03, 2006

More on the effect of language immersions

If you learn enough German but then need to write or speak in English, you may often be tempted to use the following words (at least, in my case):

trainer. It looks like a perfect English word, except that it will confuse people. What is usually meant is actually coach.

mother language, because the German word is die Müttersprache die Muttersprache, but it should be either native language or mother tongue.

I read a roman, and yet difficult to catch because Roman is likely something or someone from Rome. It should be then a novel.

make a picture while the word make here should be take instead.


Anonymous said...

It's not "Müttersprache", it's "Muttersprache"!

Anonymous said...

Many of those are also true in Russian.

Kleag said...

But all of these will be perfectly valid if literaly translated in French :-)

Patrick Trettenbrein said...

The examples you have provided here are perfect so called "falsche Freunde" (false friends).

Another very good example is the word "Ami". In French it means friend, in German it is used as a short and mostly deprecating form of the word "Amerikaner" (american). :)

Blue Lightning said...
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Anonymous said...

I think "novel" is much worse than roman, because a roman means novel, but novel means short story.

Ahh, it's just a novel, I can read that in a couple of hours this afternoon.

LMCBoy said...

I don't think "trainer" would confuse anyone. For example, personal trainer is widely used.

Anon said...

I suspect "trainer" is confusing to those Americans who use it to mean "running shoe" but British tend to use the term "runners" instead.

Many native English speakers have only a small vocabularly and suffere similar problems and get very easily confused by words which are used differently by British or American speakers.

The mistranslation I encountered several times was Schweinfleisch -> Pig Meat. I never really understood why this was wrong, pig meat describes both pork and bacon collectively but teachers insisted it had to be translated as pork.

sapphirecat said...

I'm not sure what language this comes from, but something that confused me once (as a native English speaker) was the first time I ran across someone asking for help, saying something like "My doubt is this: can X do Y?" More standard usage would replace the pessimistic "doubt" with the much more neutral "question".

Hipolito said...

He could be probably spanish : In spain when you do a question(pregunta) is because you have a 'doubt' (duda).:-)
The false friends in german which are true in russian ,are true too in spanish ( Maybe Old Europe affinity?) :-)