VOCABULARY - False Friends

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VOCABULARY - False Friends

Post  Vincent Law on Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:20 pm

False friends are pairs of words or phrases in two languages or dialects (or letters in two alphabets) that look or sound similar, but differ significantly in meaning. An example is Portuguese raro "rare" vs. Spanish raro "strange" (similarly, Spanish exquisito "exquisite" vs. Portuguese esquisito "strange"). A commonly misunderstood false friend is between the words constipation in English, and constipação (in Portuguese) where the latter means a cold in Portuguese.

Often, there is a partial overlap in meanings, which creates additional complications: e.g. Spanish lima, meaning "lime" (the fruit) and "lime" (the calcium-based material), but also "file" (the tool). Only when lima is used to mean a file does it become a false friend to the English "lime".

The term should be distinguished from "false cognates", which are similar words in different languages that appear to have a common historical linguistic origin (whatever their current meaning) but actually do not.

As well as complete false friends, use of loanwords often results in the use of a word in a restricted context, which may then develop new meanings not found in the original language.

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Re: VOCABULARY - False Friends

Post  Vincent Law on Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:24 pm

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