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#2278 - 05/13/00 05:39 AM false friends
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
I've just read today's word 'pander' and I'm remembering that some years ago I introduced a friend of mine as a 'procurer'. It was the mother of all faux pas!.
Spanish 'procurador' is english 'proxy'.
Does anyone know if there exist a list of spanish/english "faux amis"?. Must be an interesting reading!.


Juan Maria.

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#2279 - 05/13/00 08:26 AM Re: false friends
AnnaStrophic Offline
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Whoops!

I'm sure there is such a list. I have a book published over 20 years ago listing English-Portuguese false cognates. One of my favorites is 'exquisite' (in Brazilian Portuguese, 'exquisito' means 'weird')


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#2280 - 05/14/00 03:14 AM Re: oops
jmh Offline
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Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
I'd love to see such a thing, if anyone can find it.

In the meatime, here's a couple of "bloomers" from a school exchange trip to Barcelona when I was about 13.

On the first night I realised that I'd forgotten to pack a nightdress (mine was a long white Victorian(ish) cotton one). So I told the people looking after me that I needed to write to my mother to ask her to send me "un vestido largo para la noche" - I didn't know the word for nightdress so I was trying to say a long dress to wear at night-time. What I was really saying, apparently, was a long ball-gown. They were wondering where they would have to take me so that I could wear it!

I followed it up by saying "me voy a la caha" I meant to say cama (bed), instead I said "I'm going to the box". Bride of Dracula or what???


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#2281 - 05/15/00 10:55 AM Re: false friends
trinket Offline
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Registered: 05/15/00
Posts: 1
When I was learning Spanish, I remember telling a story to my boyfriend's mother who spoke Spanish only. In the course of the tale, I said that I was "muy embarazada" intending to convey that I was very embarassed. Unfortunately for me, embarazada is a false cognate of embarassed, and really means pregnant. I had some explaining to do after that faux pas!


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#2282 - 05/17/00 03:30 AM Re: false friends
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
I didn’t know this thing about ‘exquisito’. The Spanish and English meanings are similar. It’s wonderful how, being close neighbors Spaniards and Portuguese -we use to understand each other when we speak slowly- , a word can evolve so differently.

This ‘nightgown’ word keeps making me think twice every time I come across with it, the picture that first appears on my mind is that of an elegant ball dress.

The thing with ‘embarrass‘ and ‘embarazar’ is quite curious. We can say that ‘an embarrassing situation’ is ‘una situación embarazosa’, but we, males, can’t be ‘embarazados’. We have also a word with the same etymology as pregnant that is ‘preñada’ -I hope that Spanish tilded ‘n’ shows properly- but, nowadays, it’s used mainly referring to animals, it can be used for people but in a very informal way.

The evolutionary thing is what make those false friends so attractive to me, and the fun in then too!.
I like the view of words as living beings that are in continuos evolution and how they change their form, meaning or both.


Juan Maria.

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#2283 - 05/17/00 08:33 AM Re: false friends
William Hofmeyr Offline
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Registered: 04/02/00
Posts: 2
A friend (who has a little Dutch and somewhat more Afrikaans) was once in a crowded train in Amsterdam. From the far end of the carriage his companion called to him that he'd found two vacant seats. My friend had already found somewhere to store his backpack, and called out (loudly, so as to be heard) something like "Ek komme, maar ek moet my eers aftrekke" ("I'm coming but I'm first going to unburden myself.") Unfortunately, 'aftrekke' in Dutch means 'masturbate'...


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#2284 - 05/17/00 08:57 AM Re: false friends
jmh Offline
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Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
I wonder if anyone can tell the JFK story. He made a speech in Berlin which was meant to imply that he was very much one of them. he used the word "Berliner" (or similar)which had a quite different meaning. My German is too embarassingly awful to try to relate the story myself!


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#2285 - 05/17/00 11:25 AM Re: false friends
AnnaStrophic Offline
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Jo, JFK said "Ich bin ein Berliner." Which, literally, is correct German. But something nudges me, I think you might be right.... isn't 'Berliner' slang for doughnut?
... I'm not betting dollars on that :-)


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#2286 - 05/17/00 12:05 PM Re: false friends
Jackie Online   content

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Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
W. H.--
That's about the most 'situacion embarazosa' (thanks,
juanmaria) I've heard. I'll bet he had the attention
of everyone on the train!


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#2287 - 05/17/00 02:29 PM Re: German Donut
David108 Offline
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Registered: 05/09/00
Posts: 112
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
The reference to John Kennedy's attempt to order a jelly donut in Berlin is a well-known Urban Legend. Refer to

http://www.snopes.com/errata/doughnut.htm

It is an amusing tale, nonetheless! :o)

Anybody want to bet Marks to Berliners?



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#2288 - 05/17/00 05:08 PM Re: German Donut
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Thanks Anna & David 108.
I knew the story had quite a few twists and turns, and I couldn't remember the whole thing.


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#2289 - 05/22/00 03:21 AM Re: false friends
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
If somebody asked a Spanish pharmacist -or is it a chemist?- for a remedy for constipation would end with some aspirin and antihistaminic?.
That’s because in Spanish ‘constipado’ means ‘to have a cold’. Our word for constipation is ‘estreñimiento’.
So before planning a trip to Spain make sure to have a good health plan. You might end pregnant, constipated and taking aspirin with your ‘paella’.


Juan Maria.

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#2290 - 05/22/00 08:58 AM Re: false friends
tsuwm Offline
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juanmaria,

Several years ago I had a colleague who was a Basque, and he told me that his native language was totally unique. I have since come to understand what that means, but I'm wondering (1) if there are any "false friends" between Basque and Spanish and (2) have these languages become at all blended.

http://members.aol.com/tsuwm

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#2291 - 05/22/00 01:41 PM Re: false friends
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
tsuwm

My knowledge of the Basque country is very limited, I live in the opposite point of Spain, but I can tell you that their language -Euskera- is really unique. Is a very old language and I’ve heard that nobody knows for true its origins. It’s so different from Latin or Germanic languages that, I think, there are not false friends.
Although they have had to coin quite a few new words for modern things like TV radios etc. And those words share some roots with other languages, I think they are preserving the purity of their traditions and language quite strongly, they are very proud of their heritage. Spanish must have imported some Basque words but I can remember only a few ones. And all about cooking, their gastronomy is unique too!.
I’ve found on the net a paragraph in Euskera and English. We may have aroused someone’s curiosity and they would like to see an example.

“Eroski Taldearen enpresa-nortasuna ondorengoek osatzen dute: kalitatezko produktuak eta prezio oneko zerbitzuak eskaintzeak, langileek jabetzan, emaitzetan eta gestioan parte hartzeak, kontsumitzaileen interesak eta ingurugiroa bultzatzeak, eta lan egiten duen gizartearen partaide izateak. “
“The Eroski Group's principal objectives as an organisation are: to provide quality products and services at competitive prices, to incorporate workers into company ownership, to obtain results and improve management, to promote consumer and environmental issues and to play an integral role in the society in which it operates. “



Juan Maria.

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#2292 - 05/22/00 02:27 PM Re: Basque language
David108 Offline
member

Registered: 05/09/00
Posts: 112
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
...and what are the chances that there is a .wav file somewhere so that one might *hear* that paragraph? I have found a text-to-speech site, but I doubt if it would cope with Basque.


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#2293 - 05/22/00 05:13 PM Re: false friends
Rubrick Offline
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Registered: 05/18/00
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Loc: Somewhere outside New York
I believe the Basque language is related (distantly) to Celtic which eventually became the Gaelic languages of Breton, Scotland and Ireland, but it still holds to be unique.

Sorry Juanmaria to be out of season but I wish you 'Zorionak'. That is the limit of my Basque!


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#2294 - 05/22/00 08:36 PM Re: Basque
AnnaStrophic Offline
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... and I had a linguistics professor who had some cognate-clues to prove that Basque is related to Japanese.... go figger. The Basque are an isolated (by mountains) linguistic community; it is possible that their language is unique, dating back to pre-Indo-European. This is only a guess.


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#2295 - 05/23/00 03:17 PM Re: Basque language
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
I’ve never heard about an Euskera speech software but I believe that, like Spanish, once you know the syllables you don’t need phonetic transcriptions because the writings gives you all the keys to pronunciation.
But I’m really writing about a thing I know very little. I hope some Basque joins this thread because it’s a very interesting one.


Juan Maria.

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#2296 - 05/23/00 06:14 PM Re: Basque language
Rubrick Offline
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I'd love to see it too, Juanmaria. Howver, I find it completely implausible that such a person will turn up.


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#2297 - 05/23/00 06:23 PM Re: Basque language
Rubrick Offline
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Registered: 05/18/00
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David, the Basque live in a region of Spain so most of them speak Spanish aswell. My friend lives in Bilbao but considers herself more Spanish than Basque. To hear the pronunciation would require an ardent speaker of the language. Hardly likely in the relative obscurity of this list.

On a similar point. Gaelic (Irish) is spoken by most people in this sceptered isle, but it is spoken fluently by only a small percentage who are natural speakers. The vast majority know little of the language and are want to learn it as it is quite complex. Despite beong compulsory in schools, the language is a revived one and is difficult to learn. I presume that the Basque people have simila problems and most would speak only Spanish rather than a combiantion of both Spanish and Basque. I will bow acknowledgingly if this is not correct.


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#2298 - 05/23/00 06:35 PM Re: false friends
Rubrick Offline
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Registered: 05/18/00
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One of my favorites is 'exquisite' (in Brazilian Portuguese, 'exquisito' means 'weird')

Anna. In Brasilian Portuguese 'puxe' also means 'pull'. An antinym in the English language, if ever there was one!


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#2299 - 06/06/00 01:06 AM Re: false friends
Bingley Offline
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Not exactly a false friend, but an illustration of what can happen if you push a grammatical rule too far.

I was living in Valls (near Barcelona) and wanted to buy something to cheer up a friend with flu. The local sweetie shop had lots of chocolate animals -- this was just before Easter. "Just the thing," I thought. The one I chose, not dreaming of the linguistic minefield lying in wait, was a chocolate hen with some chicks. Now, I knew there was a rule that masculine words end in -o and the corresponding female words end in -a. OK, pollo is chicken, so hen must be polla. In I went and said to the assistant, "Could I have that polla please?" and pointed to the animal in question. Not a flicker of a smile crossed her face as she replied with a word I didn't know, "gallena" (not sure of the spelling now -- this was 15 years ago). Fearing some misunderstanding I repeated "polla". "Gallena" came the reply. "OK, have it your way," I thought and repeated "gallena". Clutching the chocolate I went and handed it over to my friend and asked her what was going on. She nearly fell out of bed laughing. Apparently "polla" means the same as cock, but only in the non-poultry sense of the word.

Bingley
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Bingley

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#2300 - 06/06/00 02:05 AM Re: false friends
jmh Offline
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Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
I has a similar problem when learning Spanish - I had no idea that the feminine wouldn't just be the same word with an "a" on the end. In general though, I found Spanish people amused by my attempts and impressed that I was making an effort (I'm sure that I got away with a lot of incorrect words).

Its funny how difficult it is for people to recognise a word that is very nearly right. One of my friends speaks the most beautiful sounding French (I don't speak good French so I can't say how good it is but to me, she sounds like a very elegant French speaker), yet when she live in Paris for a year as a student people regularly blanked her out as if she was saying something very strange. In most cases she was very nearly right. She wondered if it was because of the nauture of the French language that it is hard to work out an "almost correct" word or because Parisiennes don't want to try to understand.


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#2301 - 06/06/00 08:38 AM Re: false friends
Bingley Offline
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I don't think the inability to recognise what a nearly right word should be is just a French thing. I suspect it's a matter of the degree of the listener's linguistic interest and awareness. Somebody who loves puns, cryptic crosswords, and other forms of wordplay is going to find it a lot easier than somebody who has no interest in such things.

One situation I quite often meet here which leaves me at a loss for words is when, during a conversation in Indonesian, I get asked after about twenty minutes or so, "And can you speak Indonesian?"!! Despite all proof to the contrary some people will assume I can't. I know my pronunciation is bad, but it's not that bad.

Bingley
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Bingley

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#2302 - 06/07/00 01:11 PM Re: false friends
jmh Offline
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Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Thank you for your point.

The reason whether I wondered if it was more prevalent in French was that apparently, as a language, French has a lot less words, so pronunciation is (arguably) more important to aid people in working out what you trying to say.

We are used to English which may have more degrees of tolerance - we can cope with so many different accents, from South African to the Yukon and still have a reasonable idea of what someone is saying. Perhaps we expect other language to have the same level of tolerance of mispronunciation.

Good luck with the Indonesian - which languages is it linked to?


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#2303 - 06/07/00 04:16 PM Re: false friends
juanmaria Offline
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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
>"Could I have that polla please?"
Bingley,
I have laughed like a mad with your story. But don’t worry, It doesn’t matter mistaking a “polla” for a “gallina” as long as you are not a “gilipollas”.

Juan Maria.

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#2304 - 06/07/00 04:17 PM Re: false friends
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
>She wondered if it was because of the nature of the French language that it is hard to work out an "almost correct" word or because Parisiennes don't want to try to understand.

IMHO Understanding a foreigner is, mainly, a matter of willingness. Here in Malaga, as in other touristic places, we can understand even Sanskrit. We know that our economy depends on being good hosts.


Juan Maria.

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#2305 - 06/08/00 08:37 AM Re: false friends
AnnaStrophic Offline
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Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
JM, what's the average number of Sanskrit-speaking tourists you see in a year?


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#2306 - 06/08/00 11:38 AM Re: false friends
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
>JM, what's the average number of Sanskrit-speaking Tourists you see in a year?

Sorry Anna, but at this moment I’m busy trying to understand some hieroglyphics that I have found written on my dusty car.
If I only knew where I have left my Rosetta stone?.



Juan Maria.

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#2307 - 06/08/00 11:45 AM Re: Rosetta Stone
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
We could let you borrow one - we stole one from the Egyptians years ago, around the same time that we found a few Greek stones on a skip.


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#2308 - 06/09/00 12:17 AM Re: false friends
Bingley Offline
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Loc: Jakarta
JMH, if French has fewer words, wouldn't there be less likelihood of confusion and more room for error without saying something you didn't mean?

As for the range of accents in English, does anybody know how much French accents differ from region to region, not to mention from France itself to other countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, Canada? Juanmaria, what's the situation with Spanish? How much do different accents differ?

PS Indonesian is part of the Austronesian family, which also includes Malagasy (from Madagascar), Tagalog, local languages in Indonesia and the Philippines, Maori, and various Pacific Island languages all the way over to Easter Island.


Bingley
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Bingley

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#2309 - 06/09/00 10:39 AM Re: false friends
AnnaStrophic Offline
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>Sorry Anna, but at this moment I’m busy trying to understand some hieroglyphics that I have found written on my dusty car.
If I only knew where I have left my Rosetta stone?.

JM, you know you've mastered a language when you can make jokes in it, and people actually laugh. Congratulations!


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#2310 - 06/09/00 03:21 PM Re: false friends
David108 Offline
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Registered: 05/09/00
Posts: 112
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
>>does anybody know how much French accents differ from region to region, not to mention from France itself to other countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, Canada? <<

Bingley,
Here's an illustration of how French has changed in one region over time:

My father had his early education in France, since his father was travelling in "Darkest Africa", and the family was somewhat fragmented. So Dad spoke a very fluent and rich French. I learnt French from him, but it was not the language we spoke at home.

Dad maintained a regular correspondnce with French speakers, thus maintaining his vocabulary, or so he thought. When he and my mother travelled to visit family in France in later life, he discovered, to his great dismay, that he was almost lost in the language - spoken French had moved so far in the intervening years. A comment made to him by a cousin was to the effect that he was talking archaic French.

He seldom used the language after that.

I guess any language and its vocabulary will grow and develop, but the key here is that the pronounciation itself had shifted.




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#2311 - 06/10/00 07:41 AM Re: false friends
Jackie Online   content

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Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
>>I guess any language and its vocabulary will grow and develop, but the key here is that the pronounciation itself had shifted.<<
David,
that strikes me as really strange! Does anyone from anywhere know of this having happened with English--on a
wide-spread basis, that is? I know that regional dialects
change pronunciation (good heavens! I first typed that as
"pornunciation"--gives rise to all kinds of possibilities,
doesn't it??) from place to place: for ex., some in the
U.S. South say IN-sur-ance, and people in the rest of
the country, as far as I know, say in-SUR-ance.
But, thinking back to adult conversations that I heard as
a child, I can't tell any major differences from today.

I wonder what the cause of this was? Societal change in
some specific way? I will hazard a guess that it is
possible that someone who was born or grew up around 1900
might have been taught the old language of the aristocrats, if his or her grandparents had anything to do with it.
Then during the changes wrought by the industrial revolution, this way of speaking became frowned on? A hundred and fifty year late "liberte, egalite, fraternite"?






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#2312 - 06/12/00 01:35 AM Re: false friends
Bingley Offline
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Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
If it comes to that, think of the difference between our own dear queen's pronunciation and that of the younger royals. It seems to have been quite a sudden thing -- there's a very audible difference between Princes Charles and Edward.

Bingley
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Bingley

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#2313 - 06/12/00 03:39 AM Re: false friends
Rubrick Offline
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Registered: 05/18/00
Posts: 679
Loc: Somewhere outside New York
> As for the range of accents in English, does anybody know how much French accents differ from region to region, not to
mention from France itself to other countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, Canada? Juanmaria, what's the situation
with Spanish? How much do different accents differ?

I know of huge variations in the French accent throughout France and after a few recent visits to Belgium I have started to discern differences in the dialects (though I stayed mainly in the Flemish region - much nicer people). One thing that struck me was the complete change in language. In France (and French generally) the words for 'eighty' and 'ninety' are, respectively, quatre-vingt and quatre-vingt dix which translate as 'four twenty's' and 'four twenty's and ten'.

In Belgian French they are more akin to English and use Octante and Nonante instead. After years of using the former it takes a conscious effort to use the latter.


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#2314 - 06/14/00 04:09 PM Re: false friends
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
>As for the range of accents in English, does anybody know how much French accents differ from region to region, not to mention from France itself to other countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, Canada? Juanmaria, what's the situation with Spanish? How much do different accents differ?


We have very different accents from region to region. Only in Spain there are at least eight easy recognizable regional accents but I, as Andalusian, can recognize at least four types of Andalusian accent, so I suppose that people from other regions can make further distinctions.
Regarding South American accents, I think I can distinguish among Mexican, Argentinean or Venezuelan but I can’t tell a region from another, I’m sure that people from those countries can distinguish accents from different regions.
Lately we are importing TV programs, mainly soap operas, from South America and this is improving our understanding of their Spanish.
Personally my favorites are Cuban and other Caribbean accents “Papi, mi amol”.


Juan Maria.

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#2315 - 06/14/00 04:11 PM Re: false friends
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
>JM, you know you've mastered a language when you can make jokes in it, and people actually laugh.



Juan Maria.

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#2316 - 07/19/00 09:11 AM Re: false friends
jhar Offline
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Registered: 07/19/00
Posts: 1
Some years ago, in Amsterdam, I met an Englishman who had lived in the Netherlands for some years. We got into a discussion of the Dutch language. He told me that the Dutch were so particular about pronuciation that movies that were set in outlying regions of the country were subtitled in "High Dutch" to overcome difficulties with dialects.


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#2317 - 07/19/00 12:47 PM Re: false friends
Jackie Online   content

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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11610
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Welcome, jhar!

I'm glad, or perhaps I should say not, to know that there
are sticklers in other cultures!


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#2318 - 07/20/00 02:54 AM Re: false friends
screen Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/25/00
Posts: 37
Loc: Newcastle, Australia.
I have an English/French one.
My father was a motivational business speaker , who was addressing a French audience. As a rousing "go-get-em" type finale he wanted to say "[the people in this company] are the salt of the earth", but couldn't remember the word for "salt" so thought of the principle behind the phrase and decided the word "preservative" would do, so he said "preservatif", and was puzzled by the stunned response it received. It was later explained to him that he has just called the entire group of delagates "the condoms of the world".


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#2319 - 07/20/00 02:33 PM Re: false friends
william Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 200
actually i prefer "condom of the world".
i think if we can get over our sex hang ups that will become a standard expression.
surely.


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#2320 - 07/20/00 08:58 PM Re: false friends
Jackie Online   content

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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11610
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
screen,

that was hilarious (though not to your dad!)! Glad to see you posting more, Dear!


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#2321 - 07/26/00 01:40 PM Re: false friends
JMike Offline
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Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 7
Loc: Combine (East of Dallas) Texas
Wasn't there a problem with President Carter speaking through an interpreter in Poland. He remarked that the US and Poland were alike in their common desire for peace.
Apparently the interpreter translated "common desire" as "mutual horniness"...

Spider Robinson uses the device to form a type of riddle based on what he calls the "invisible idiot" technique. That was the translation of "out of sight, out of mind."
The story is "Involuntary Man's Laughter" in the 3rd Callahan book.


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#2322 - 08/01/00 07:09 AM Re: false friends
dreisenberger Offline
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Registered: 08/01/00
Posts: 1
Loc: UK
My favourite ever false friend was one between English and Italian. A train connection in Italian is known as a

coincidenza

Perfectly logical of course- it's the meaning in English that's crept to mean something else.

Does this false friend work in any other latinate languages?




Mondschaf
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