Fun with False Friends
November 19, 2015, 2 Comments
A chef using a preservative isn’t quite the same as a Chef using a Präservativ. Confusing a cook and marmalade with a boss and condoms is a great example of how embarrassing – and funny – false friends can be. And with friends like these, who needs enemies?
False friends are words that look like ones you know but mean something completely different. They aren’t the worst part of learning a foreign language but they are often the most memorable, precisely because you find out the hard way how easy miscommunication can be.
English and German are full of false friends, possibly because the languages are so closely linked, so as an English-speaker learning German, I fell into their traps more than once. If I say mist, am I talking about the weather or swearing out loud? And it was no surprise to meet German-speakers learning English who were experiencing the same problems in reverse.
My solution was to team up with a Swiss cartoonist, Michael Meister, and make fun of our favourite false friends. The end result – this new book – will have you laughing as much as learning, and hopefully saving you the blushes and blunders we have both experienced. Some words you might already know (or think you do), others might surprise you but none can be trusted.
False Friends: 51 Ways to be Misunderstood celebrates the perils of learning English or German. It is a collection of 51 classic examples of linguistic booby traps, each with an English sentence illustrated by a cartoon. At the back is a Glossary that explains both meanings of the word in question, along with their German translations.
This isn’t a book just for language students – though of course it is perfect for them – but for anyone who enjoys the delights and disasters that come with discovering a new language. If you already speak some German (or English) then you will only find it even funnier.
And of course, it’s a great Christmas present. The book can be ordered in any Swiss bookshop (ISBN 978-3905252859) or direct from the publisher, Bergli Books. If you order from Bergli before 7 December then you are guaranteed to get a signed copy (make sure you mention in the remarks field that you’d like a signed copy).
Your boss, or even your chef, might like one!