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#2298 - 05/23/00 10:35 PM Re: false friends  
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Rubrick Offline
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Rubrick  Offline
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Somewhere outside New York
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!


#2299 - 06/06/00 05:06 AM Re: false friends  
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Bingley Offline
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Bingley  Offline
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Jakarta
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


Bingley
#2300 - 06/06/00 06:05 AM Re: false friends  
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jmh Offline
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jmh  Offline
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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.


#2301 - 06/06/00 12:38 PM Re: false friends  
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Bingley Offline
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Bingley  Offline
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Jakarta
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


Bingley
#2302 - 06/07/00 05:11 PM Re: false friends  
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jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah
jmh  Offline
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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?


#2303 - 06/07/00 08:16 PM Re: false friends  
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juanmaria Offline
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juanmaria  Offline
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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.

#2304 - 06/07/00 08:17 PM Re: false friends  
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 163
juanmaria Offline
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juanmaria  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 163
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.

#2305 - 06/08/00 12:37 PM Re: false friends  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
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lower upstate New York
JM, what's the average number of Sanskrit-speaking tourists you see in a year?


#2306 - 06/08/00 03:38 PM Re: false friends  
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juanmaria Offline
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juanmaria  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 163
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.

#2307 - 06/08/00 03:45 PM Re: Rosetta Stone  
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jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah
jmh  Offline
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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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