False but amusing friends

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
We all know about false friends. Many an anglophone has stared at a German sign saying Notausgang, believing it is not an Ausgang. A Pole in the UK would do well not to expect a hot dog from a stall selling hot pies.

But some of them are fun, at least if you're childish. Swedish fart is 'speed', opening up endless possibilities of juvenile fun. Farthinder = 'speed bump'. Slut means 'end', and 'final' in compounds, so you can have a perfectly innocent slutspurt if you're a retail outlet. Also in Danish.

German Fahrt, 'journey', isn't quite as good, but will do at a pinch, given all the Ausfahrt signs you'll see on motorways.

Dutch slagroom is 'cream'. Well, what did you think it meant?

Over to you...
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
In French "bite" (the "e" is mute) = "dick"

Then there's Latin "cum" and English "cum", which sometimes causes problems to tattooists who want a translation of a phrase which requires "cum"...

Latin "urinari" meaning "to dive", whence "urinator", "diver".

The neuter plural of Greek "kakos" meaning "bad", "kaka", sounds the same as French "caca" meaning "poo".
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
There's a trend emerging.

(I was going to say T'habites à Milan? Bon anniversaire! but Uncle Googly tells me there are dozens of this sort of thing.)
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Also Latin "petere" and French "péter", "to fart". Perhaps I should be ashamed here, but it happened to me to smile inwardly and picture a strange spectacle when reading Cicero saying "etiam atque etiam peto".
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
Lange Voorhout is a street in den Haag. Now Dutch hout (wood) is cognate with German Holz and not with Haut (skin), but no amount of knowledge can prevent a German from reading that as lange Vorhaut, or 'long foreskin'.
 

Tomer

Active Member
German Sein sounds almost identical to Hebrew for "dick". Although, whilst in Germany, I stopped noticing it quite immediately, it is still some of the stuff of crispy juvenile legends among the young voyeurs, salivating at European legs.
 

Ignis Umbra

Ignis Aeternus
In Italian, there's the exclamatory Dai!, which means "Come on!" in an urgent way. It's pronounced like "die" in English. I was taken aback when I first heard Italians shouting this at each other. :p
 

Iordanus

Active Member
"diu" (for a long time) in Latin sounds like "to f**k" in Cantonese...used to giggle at that all the time when I first learned Latin!
 

Tomer

Active Member
Well, fac sounds like f*ck. But I assume it's already worn out by now.

I guess it means that facit is also an obsolete joke.
 

Tomer

Active Member
English's aloof is almost identical in pronounciation to Hebrew's word for "champion" or "army general". I find it epitomizes our Spartan politics.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
The Metro, a free newspaper in London, has a sudoku puzzle. To distinguish it from all the other equally boring examples of the genre, it calls it 'Metroku'. This amuses francophones, particularly those who think it's quite a sensible suggestion as to what to do with the things.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
No matter how many times I see the sign Hier kunt U pinnen ('you can pay by card here'), I can't read it in the way it was intended.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I see... Well, the Japanese for "no" sounds like "yeah", and the modern Greek for "yes" sound like the Dutch for "no".
 

Aurifex

Aedilis
Staff member
The well known UK company British Telecom is now almost universally known as BT. To A Chinese person our pronunciation of BT sounds almost exactly like their word for "snot".
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Latin prout is written (if not pronounced) exactly the same way as a French word meaning "fart" (noun).
 

Tomer

Active Member
It might be my amateurish Chinese, but the Mandarin word for 'dinner' gets to sound as if, for the 3rd time now, you're being asked for the whereabouts of a Wi-Fi network.
 
Top