"False friends"

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How do you say daddy-long-legs in Dutch? How many ways are there to say "thank you" or "you're welcome"? Post everything about vocabulary here.
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Quetzal
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"False friends"

Post by Quetzal »

"False friends" is de Engelse naam voor uitdrukkingen of woorden in twee talen die heel erg op elkaar lijken, vaak ook dezelfde etymologische oorsprong hebben, maar toch iets heel anders betekenen. Een lijst van die "false friends" in Engels en Nederlands lijkt me wel nuttig. Uiteraard zijn toevoegingen welkom.

"False friends" is the English name for expressions or words in two languages that look very much alike, often even have the same etymological origin, and yet mean something quite different. A list of those "false friends" in English and Dutch seemed useful to me. Of course additions are welcomed.


Actual (E) - actueel (D)

In Dutch, "actueel" means "up to date" or "current", for instance "een actuele kwestie" = a current matter, a matter which is currently being talked about in the media and elsewhere. It's not that frequently used, but the word "actualiteit", derived from it, is quite common; it means "current events", the things that have happened lately in the world and that you hear/read about in the media.
The English meaning is a bit difficult to explain, but I assume people know that - quite different as you can see.



Advocate (E) - advokaat (D)

In Dutch, "een advokaat" is a laywer/barrister/solicitor: i.e. someone who defends someone else in a court of law. It can *not* be used like in English to refer to someone who is a vocal supporter of some cause; in such a case we would say "een voorstander" (with "opponent" being "tegenstander").
We do however have the expression "de advokaat van de duivel", meaning the same thing as its English equivalent.



Character (E) - karakter (D) / personage (D)

In English, the word "character" can refer either to the sum of a given person's characteristics, moods and inclinations; or to a fictional person in a book or movie (or video game or whatever). In Dutch, we have two different words for this. The former is easy, that's just "karakter" (with "characteristic" being "karakteristiek" - like in English, both adjective and noun). The latter meaning, however, is translated by "personage" (mind the pronunciation, the G is a French G, and the O is shorter than it would normally be in that position, since it's an originally French word).



Eventual(ly) (E) - eventueel (D)

Both are derived from the same stem obviously, and both are adverbs (or, rarer, adjectives). But the meaning is, again, quite different: in Dutch, "eventueel" means something like "possibly" or "potentially", for instance "Ik zou dat eventueel kunnen doen" = I could possibly/conceivably/... do that - in the sentence, the word "eventueel" adds even more doubt than is already inherent in the "zou".
As an adjective, I'd translate "eventueel" by "potential" or "possible" something like that: "een eventuele oplossing" = a possible solution, something that could be a solution.
In Dutch, "eventueel" has NO temporal meaning whatsoever - it's about expressing doubt or potentiality, not time like in English.
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Post by Quantum Toast »

I've noticed that the Dutch word for "squirrel" ("eekhoorn", apparently) looks like it's pronounced exactly like the English word "acorn" - to me, this seems to be just asking for trouble. :P (Admittedly, pronunciation isn't my strong point, so i could be wrong.)

Also, I used to use "ruimte" to mean "room", instead of "kamer" (just because it sounded more similar, and I saw them both listed as possible translations) until I was told that "ruimte" generally means a 'space' or 'area' rather than a 'room'. Is that enough to make it a "false friend"?

I can't think of any others I've encountered, but if I do think of any more I'll post them.
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Post by Quetzal »

Quantum Toast wrote:I've noticed that the Dutch word for "squirrel" ("eekhoorn", apparently) looks like it's pronounced exactly like the English word "acorn" - to me, this seems to be just asking for trouble. :P (Admittedly, pronunciation isn't my strong point, so i could be wrong.)
Hm. Well, not quite... I guess I never heard "acorn" pronounced aloud before. Hm. The Dutch word has both a long EE and a long OO though... but I guess if the A in acorn is pronounced like that, yeah, it'd be pretty similar.

Quantum Toast wrote:Also, I used to use "ruimte" to mean "room", instead of "kamer" (just because it sounded more similar, and I saw them both listed as possible translations) until I was told that "ruimte" generally means a 'space' or 'area' rather than a 'room'. Is that enough to make it a "false friend"?
Hm, sort of, yeah... what you said is right, basically.
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Post by Bieneke »

Acorn and eekhoorn, what a nice finding. :-) I think they are indeed pronounced in pretty much the same way. At least, that goes for my pronunciation of eekhoorn (I drop 'h' and I use an 'English r').
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Post by Tom »

I always thought that this was quite cute.

In Dutch de eekhoorn (the squirrel) does the eating while the thing that the squirrel (de eekhoorn) eats is the acorn (de eikel) in English.
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Post by Vicky »

Hi there,
Maybe it isn't related to the subject but I would like to tell that as other languages Russian has a lot of loan words and quite a few of them I suppose from the Dutch. Probbaly thanks to Peter the Great. So, they carry the same meaning as the original (Dutch) words. For instance, Advokaat (with one a) used in Russian for a defender on court. Kamer (kamera) is not exsactly a room but a prison cell (room is "komnata" in Russian). The same with Karakter and Personage. And there some more words borrowed from Dutch.

Groetjes, :-D
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Post by Leeuwin »

Hoi,

Een andere voorbeeld is:

Bureau (Engels en Nederlands)

Bureau in Dutch is a desk that you do school work on or go on a computer. Something to do paperwork on. In English they use the word bureau for a department of something. For example in the States they have the FBI, federal bureau of investigation.

Hopelijk dit is een goed voorbeeld.

Goetjes Leeuwin :)
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Post by Qinx »

Achter in het book "The Undutchables" staat een hele lijst met dergelijke woorden.

En er is een Nederlandse cabaretier die er een dichtvorm van gemaakt heeft voor één van zijn shows. Van iedere zin was het laatste woord de Engelse vertaling van het op-een-na-laatste woord in de zin. Die vertaling is dan in het Nederlands ook een woord, zodat de zin correct Nederlands werd. Een voorbeeldje:

"Je kunt het huis zien, wanneer je bij de bocht bent."

"Bent" is de Engelse vertaling van bocht, maar uiteraard ook de jij vorm van "zijn". Ik zal es kijken of ik de hele tekst terug kan vinden, het was best goed gedaan.

In the back of the book "The Undutchables" there is a whole list with words like that.

And there is this dutch stand-up comedian who used it as a poetry form in one of his shows. In every sentence, the last word was the translation of the last-but-one word in that sentence. That translation also had a meaning in Dutch then, making the sentence correct Dutch. An example:

"You can see the house, when you are at the bent."

"bent" in Dutch means "are" (2nd person present tense of "to be"). I'll try and see if I can find the whole text of it, it was done pretty well.
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Post by loekie »

hallo,
ik ben eerder toevallig op deze site geraakt, en ik weet ook niet echt in welke taal ik berichten moet posten, so i'll continue in english.
the thing is i 'm a student and my thesis is about false friends, and especially the homophones, like for example 'boon' (=bean) and 'bone', so the ones that yo prononce the same in the 2 languages but, mean something different, and may be written differentially to. biggest problem actually is that the words need to be picturable, but hey that's my problem of course.
i'm of course still lokking for examples, cause it's hard to find, so now i get to my point and the reason i registered on this nice site,
who 's the writer and/or publisher of the book 'the undutchables'? i 've never heard of them, but it might be really interesting for me to read those last pages.
i would love to get a reaction, definetly thanks a lot, and for the others have fun learning dutch!
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Post by Tom »

I this the type of thing your are looking for?

Dutch – English

Kil – kill
Bad – bad
Elk – elk
Git – git
Gut – gut
Groetjes
Tom
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