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Thread: Ambiguous Words in Different Germanic Languages

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sybren View Post


    'ai' in 'snail' is a long sound, like the first 'e' in 'felicitatie' for example, or the 'ee' in 'veel', 'meel', 'geel', etc. The 'e' in 'snel' is a short sound.

    You can check this easily on google translate

    Just type in snail and click on the speaker icon.
    Well, that google translate is nice.

    However, most English speakers do not annunciate the snail as a "ee" in the case of snel.

    I suppose out of ease, snail is just pronounced like snel.

    You don't need to stress the "ai" in snail. English speakers generally just say snail as snel.

    Sort of like tail and tell in English. Most English speakers pronounce them with the same sound. Quite different from the long sound words like gain, train, and rain are pronounced with.

  2. #22
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    I remember a story told by a friend of the family, who went to a wedding in Denmark some years ago. When the wedding ceremony in church was over, she hailed a cab to go to the 'after party'. As she was entering the cab, one of her Danish relatives came over and asked "Må jeg sitte på med dig?" (or something of the sort), meaning "May/Can I ride along with you?" in Danish. However, the word 'må' means primarily 'must/have to/require' in Norwegian, making her think she meant 'Do I have to ride along with you?', as a necessity instead of a request. Unknowingly, she just answered 'No' with a smile, closed the door and drove off, leaving her Danish relative behind, with no cab.

    Some other intra-Scandinavian false friends that may cause some weird misunderstandings;
    Bolle/Bolla = Norwegian; 'bun' / Swedish; to 'play ball' / Danish; vulgar word for 'sexual intercourse'
    Kneppe = Norwegian; to 'button up' / Danish; same as above
    Bęsj/Bäsj = Swedish; 'beer' / Norwegian; 'poo'
    Rar = Norwegian 'odd/weird' / Danish; 'nice/pleasant/kind' / Swedish; 'cute/adorable'
    Tųs = Danish; 'girl' / Norwegian; 'slut'
    Rolig = Norwegian/Danish; 'calm' / Swedish; 'funny'
    Mås = Swedish; 'seagull' / Danish; 'butt'
    Grine = Danish; 'laugh' / Norwegian 'cry/sob'
    Glass = Norwegian; 'glass' = Swedish; 'ice cream'
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    Quote Originally Posted by BroBro View Post
    Well, that google translate is nice.

    However, most English speakers do not annunciate the snail as a "ee" in the case of snel.

    I suppose out of ease, snail is just pronounced like snel.

    You don't need to stress the "ai" in snail. English speakers generally just say snail as snel.

    Sort of like tail and tell in English. Most English speakers pronounce them with the same sound. Quite different from the long sound words like gain, train, and rain are pronounced with.
    Americans say 'snel', the English say 'snay-all'


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    Quote Originally Posted by Unity Mitford View Post
    Americans say 'snel', the English say 'snay-all'

    Probably depends on the speaker and family and regional too.

    I never talk abouts snels, or snay-alls, so I can't say that I have heard it pronounced in all regional accents.

    I am pretty sure most Northerners on the North American continent, including Canadians say snel. Southerners have more of a drawl so they might say snay-all too.

    However, snail, pronounced snel or snay-all well be understood in any English speaking region as a snail.

    Eitherway, you say it it will be understood as such in English.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CruxClaire View Post
    I've heard the word "Po" used in German as a slang term for butt/ass/whatever you want to call it, so wouldn't that make "Poland" in English sound like "Ass country" in German?
    Theoretically yes, but since Poland is called "Polen" in German language, the link isn“t that obvious.

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    Some great funny posts in this thread, haha!

    I found this list of examples for English:

    We must polish the Polish furniture.
    He could lead if he would get the lead out.
    The farm was used to produce produce.
    The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
    The soldier decided to desert in the desert.
    This was a good time to present the present.
    A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
    When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
    I did not object to the object.
    The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
    The bandage was wound around the wound.
    There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
    They were too close to the door to close it.
    The buck does funny things when the does are present.
    They sent a sewer down to stitch the tear in the sewer line.
    To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
    The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
    After a number of injections my jaw got number.
    Upon seeing the tear in my clothes I shed a tear.
    I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
    How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

    It's not a comparison of the meanings of the same words in different Germanic languages, but it does point out some ambiguities within English for words that are spelled the same, but can have different meanings and be used in different contexts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BroBro View Post
    Probably depends on the speaker and family and regional too.

    I never talk abouts snels, or snay-alls, so I can't say that I have heard it pronounced in all regional accents.

    I am pretty sure most Northerners on the North American continent, including Canadians say snel. Southerners have more of a drawl so they might say snay-all too.

    However, snail, pronounced snel or snay-all well be understood in any English speaking region as a snail.

    Eitherway, you say it it will be understood as such in English.
    I hate to disagree with you (some people take it personally, and i hope you don't) but i've never heard the word snail pronounced as "snel". "Ail" is an English word in it's own right and is never pronounced as "ell", and with snail you use the same sound but simply add the "sn" on to the front.

    In these videos you have an English woman, a Scottish woman, and an American woman, all pronouncing it the same way:

    http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-...an-land-snails
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15517221
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWB_COSUXMw
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    A personal story of mine, so probably not a general mistake people make, but anyway...

    I was in a bar in Sweden watching football a while back and a friend of a friend came over and introduced himself. He looked up at the screen then back at me, put out his hand and said "you won?". I shook his hand and said "no we're still playing, but we're winning." He looked a bit confused and repeated himself again, so i said "not yet", getting a bit confused myself. I look over at the people i'm with, who are pissing themselves with laughter, and once more the guy points at himself and says "you won". At that point i figure out he's telling me his name.

    Apparently the Swedes pronounce Johan differently from most other places i've been to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angelcynn Beorn View Post

    Apparently the Swedes pronounce Johan differently from most other places i've been to.

    Depends on the dialect. Same in Norway. We have dialects where it is "Jo-an", and "Jo-hann".
    Please don't confuse the terms "nordid" and "nordic".

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