Fun with False Friends

November 19, 2015, 2 Comments

False FriendsA 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?

BecomeFalse 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.

HerdEnglish 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.

Old timerMy 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.

BriefsFalse 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.

SmokingThis 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.

ChefAnd of course, it’s a great present. The book can be ordered in any Swiss bookshop (ISBN 978-3905252859) or direct from the publisher, Bergli Books (with free postage in Switzerland).

Your boss, or even your chef, might like one!



2 Comments on "Fun with False Friends"

  1. Chris SWAN Thursday November 19th, 2015 at 11:03 AM · Reply

    I struggled for a LONG time with Tageshit as I hyphenated the word after Tage and not Tages….. couldn’t work out why the were offering a pile of mist to eat…..

  2. TJ Martin Tuesday November 24th, 2015 at 09:21 PM · Reply

    I’ve always gotten a kick out of using the German/Swiss/Swedish word for speed ( or fast ) … Fart .. in its proper context . Back in the day my AutoDelta modified Alfetta GT had the words Fart Snabblasten on the back spoiler . Suffice it to say here in the US tailgating while I had thecar was never a problem 😉

    FYI ; Finally was able to track down a copy of your Trains book and am about three chapters in . Two huge thumbs up ! Definitely going to have to push to get your other book in as well . And if you’re ever Denver CO way … hit me up .

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