Thursday, 26 June 2008

13 False Friends

13 False Friends
(Linguistically Speaking, That Is)

When I first started learning Italian, I found myself stumbling over words that seemed so darn familiar to me, but in actuality were not. They look similar to English, but in fact have vastly different meanings than what I kept wanting to believe. It's a common pitfall in most languages, and since English draws from so many different sources, it's sometimes hard to get past.

So today, I present to you "13 False Friends" between English and Italian. I'll give you the words in Italian, along with an approximation of their pronunciation, and you can see if you can guess what they are in English, okay?

1) Orso ("or-so")
a) horse b) dog c) bear d) star

2) Vacanza ("va-cahn-za")
a) vacancy b) porch c) distance d) vacation

3) Romanzo ("ro-man-zoh")
a) book b) novel c) romance d) Roman soldier

4) Morbido ("more-bee-do")
a) morose b) dark c) soft d) evil

5) Sale ("sah-lay")
a) sail b) sale c) wing d) salt

6) Mare ("mah-ray")
a) sea b) female horse c) wall d) scratch

7) Gusto ("goo-stoh")
a) strength b) color c) taste d) wind

8) Fattoria ("fat-toh-ree-ah")
a) factory b) day spa c) writer d) farm

9) Genitori ("geh-nee-tor-ee")
a) parents b) creators c) engines d) genitalia

10) Pane ("pah-nay")
a) bread b) window glass c) pain d) cooking pot

11) Magazzino ("mag-gahz-zeen-oh")
a) magazine b) pamphlet c) warehouse d) courtyard

12) Mosca ("mohss-ka")
a) mosquito b) beetle c) moth d) fly

13) Fame ("fah-may")
a) stardom b) bed frame c) hunger d) film

Have you made your guesses? Let's see how you did:

1) Orso ("or-so")
c) bear

2) Vacanza ("va-cahn-za")
d) vacation

3) Romanzo ("ro-man-zoh")
b) novel

4) Morbido ("more-bee-do")
c) soft

5) Sale ("sah-lay")
d) salt

6) Mare ("mah-ray")
a) sea

7) Gusto ("goo-stoh")
c) taste

8) Fattoria ("fat-toh-ree-ah")
d) farm

9) Genitori ("geh-nee-tor-ee")
a) parents

10) Pane ("pah-nay")
a) bread

11) Magazzino ("mag-gahz-zeen-oh")
c) warehouse

12) Mosca ("mohss-ka")
d) fly

13) Fame ("fah-may")
c) hunger

So...? How did you do?

Anyway, that's all for this week, see ya next time...

That is, after you scroll down...

Keep going...

Here ya go - and don't forget to click on the pic!:

Gilles Marini - actor (recently seen in "Sex and the City", apparently)

Ciao for now!


Allison Says said...

Great list! Interesting how some of them I thought to myself "there is no way it means that! too easy!" and it did mean that, and others it was not at all what it seemed like! I can see why that would be tricky.

Happy TT :)

Jennifer McKenzie said...

I got them all wrong except for 'taste' 'farm' and 'bread'. LOL. GREAT TT.
And I clicked on the pic.

Melzie said...

That's certainly interesting! I didn't do so hot, 4 correct. LOL!! :)

Happy TT mine is up!

Nina Pierce said...

Only knew one ... ocean, very close to the french, "mer". The rest other 4 were lucky guesses. :D Nice T13!

Are you enjoying your vacation?

Paige Tyler said...

Cool TT! And that pics is just yummy!


My TT is at

Savannah Chase said...

interesting post.....

Happy T13

Heather said...

Great idea for a post - I did fairly well, drawing on French experience with faux amis for some of them.

Tempest Knight said...

Oooh... I love this! I have to copy it for my linguistic courses. ;)

Danica said...

That was so fun! I did pretty well because I know French and Spanish and a little Italian. I totally think I should have known fame because it's the same sounds as in French, but I confused myself looking at it! I think that "creators" instead of "parents" was close enough tho so I consider that I only missed warehouse and hunger. I think.

Eaton Bennett said...

Only one correct...but new languages are fascinating. :)