I have defined some of the words (underlined) in the blog post, which you can add to your Personal Dictionary. Click on the Excel icon to download the word list to your PC or mobile device, which you can thereafter import into your Personal Dictionary. They are also listed below.
Scroll down to the bottom for links to a crossword and word search using words from this post.
Cognate: Words in different languages that have a similar origin and meaning.
Confusion: A state of being uncertain, bewildered, or lacking understanding.
Misunderstanding: A failure to grasp the meaning or intention of something.
Perplexed: A state of being confused, puzzled, or unsure of what to do.
Incident: An event or occurrence, often unexpected or unplanned.
Embarrassing: Causing a feeling of discomfort or shame.
Corridor: A long, narrow hallway or passage, often connecting rooms or areas of a building.
Consequent: Following as a result or effect of something else.
Eventually: At some point in the future; after a period of time.
Sensible: Having or showing good judgment; reasonable.
Recipe: A set of instructions for preparing a particular dish or type of food.
I’m quite certain that almost everyone reading this post, will have heard of the term ‘false friends’. If not, false friends are cognates or expressions that have the same form in your native language, as in another language, but have a different meaning, which quite often leads to confusion or misunderstandings.
My very first confrontation with this problem came within the first week of my arrival in Germany. I asked the waitress at a restaurant I was in, whether she had a tablet, because I had a slight headache. A few minutes later, she arrived back with a tray. I was rather perplexed. I thought she might expect my headache to go away if I banged myself on the head! On another occasion I was at a company, when my students talked about their ‘chef’, and I was really impressed that they had their own private cook at the company! At another company soon after, I discovered that a casino wasn’t somewhere we could play poker, but in fact it was the canteen. These funny incidents continued to amuse me until I started to learn German, then I could better understand why the German learners said what they did.
So in today’s post, I’d like to highlight some of the most common English and German false friends, just in case you are making the the same mistakes. I will be brief – which is short in English, but a letter in German.
The first list false friends are cognates which have the exact spelling, but a completely different meaning. In England some would be pleased to receive a gift, whereas in German the same word means poison. Here is a list of examples: (German on left for non-German speakers.)
Pupils go to school in here – Pupils do sport here
A way of doing something – the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.
Something to listen to music out of – something to put stuff into.
The staff of a company – of or concerning one’s private life, relationships, and emotions
A mobile device for making phone calls – something practical, useful and close to hand.
A device for projecting film and pictures onto a screen – a slang word for
The second list are cognates that are similar in spelling. It includes the word become, which leads to many embarrassing mistakes, with Germans around the world asking if they can become a drink. Or always amusing for me is when people tell me they saw their boss on the corridor. Here is a list of examples: (German on left for non-German speakers.)
Be consistent – Something that follows
Konzern / Concern
A corporate group – a matter of interest or worry
A little strange – wanting to know
Eventuell / Eventually
Possibly – Finally
Sensibel / Sensible
Sensitive – prudent, using common sense
Aktuell / Actual
Current – existing in fact; real
Rezept / Recipe
Prescription for medication – instructions for making a meal
I’m sure there are many other examples that you know of, that I haven’t included here. If you’d like to share them, leave me a message in the comments.
To test your knowledge, why not do a crossword puzzle, using words from this text?
Click here for instructions on how to play.
To test your knowledge, why not do a word search puzzle, using words from this text?
Click here for instructions on how to play.
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