False friends for Russian-speaking students who learn English and why you need to know them by sight

We have many friends in English - words that look the same in English and Russian. Nevertheless, as in life, English also has false friends - words that seem to be helpful only at first glance. Moreover, there are even “half-false” friends; they in turn, pretend to be friends, but can also betray in certain situations. Therefore, we don’t want you to write at customs "just visiting" in the column "occupation"; and in the column "sex" to write "yes".

Just because words look or sound alike it doesn't mean they have the same meaning in two languages. It is always useful to check all new words in the dictionary or ask the interlocutor if you understood them correctly. False friends can cause annoying mistakes when a term in one language means something offensive or unpleasant in another. For example, the word "удача" - luck sounds almost the same as "фарт" - to fart. Someone is lucky, someone is not!

If you think that false friends can cost you a couple of minutes of embarrassment at most, you underestimate their “deceit”. They can cost you millions of dollars or even threaten a person's life.

In 1980, a patient was admitted to a Florida hospital in a coma. His Hispanic family described his condition as "intoxicado," literally "intoxicated" by paramedics and doctors.

A person familiar with Cuban Spanish would know that the family meant that there was something wrong with what the patient ate or drank — this was not a case of drug or alcohol intoxication.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that doctors incorrectly treated the patient, the hospital had to pay him $ 71 million in damages.

Therefore, carefully consider the top 15 most "embarrassing" false friends, knowing which will help you avoid many misunderstandings.

English word

(Английское слово)

Correct translation(s)

(Правильный(е) перевод(ы)

Incorrect translation

Ошибочный перевод

Their English compliance(s)

Их английское (ие) соответствие(я)

Accurate

Точный

Аккуратный

Neat, tidy

Cartoon

Мультфильм

Картон

Cardboard, carton

Cater

Обслуживать

Катер

Motorboat

Chef

Шеф-повар

Шеф

Boss, manager

Clay

Глина

Клей

Glue

Data

Данные

Дата

Date

Decade

Десятилетие

Декада

Ten-day period

Fabric

Ткань, материя

Фабрика

Factory, plant

List

Список

Лист

Leaf (дерева), sheet (бумаги)

Lunatic

Сумасшедший, безумный

Лунатик

Sleepwalker

Magazine

Журнал

Магазин

Shop, store

More

больше, более, ещё

Море

The sea

Servant

Слуга; служащий

Сервант

Sideboard

Plot

Сюжет, заговор

Плот

Raft

Troop

Отряд (военный)

Труп

Dead body, corpse

In our next article, we will talk about the biggest false friends in English, the ones that try to impersonate the real ones. And also the most insidious - "half-false" friends, that are good to you only when you are doing well.) And, to finish - about where they came from, and how to identify these wolves in sheep's clothing and avoid embarrassment.

Author: Andrew Shapovalov

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