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Thread: Ambiguous Words in Different Germanic Languages

  1. #11
    a.k.a. Alpensun Ringenwald's Avatar
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    It seems to me that "Gift" is a famous example. In English it's a present and in German it means "poison"

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    Quote Originally Posted by xmuller View Post
    It seems to me that "Gift" is a famous example. In English it's a present and in German it means "poison"
    It's poison in Norwegian too. "Du gifter deg", when you get married, not sure if it's related

  3. #13
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    Snel, pronounced snail, means fast in Dutch. In English a snail is a very slow moving creature, and to say snail, means, some one moves as slow as a snail.

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    Senior Member Granraude's Avatar
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    This one is popular here.

    The Norwegian word 'sæd', which means semen, is pronounced the same way as the English word 'sad'.

    A lot of kids at school giggle in the English classes when characters in books are "oh so sad".
    Please don't confuse the terms "nordid" and "nordic".

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    Senior Member Neophyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xmuller View Post
    It seems to me that "Gift" is a famous example. In English it's a present and in German it means "poison"
    And in Swedish it means not only poison but also married.

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    Senior Member Sybren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BroBro View Post
    Snel, pronounced snail, means fast in Dutch. In English a snail is a very slow moving creature, and to say snail, means, some one moves as slow as a snail.
    Ehm.. Dutch 'snel' is not pronounced like the English word 'snail'. The 'e' in snel is a short vowel.


    Here is one:

    If Frisians say: 'it kin net' when looking at the thickness of ice to judge if you can stand on it, we mean: 'it is NOT possible to stand on the ice'.

    When the Dutch hear a Frisian say 'it kin net', they think of the Dutch word 'net', which means 'just'. Hence they think we mean it is 'just' possible to stand on the ice.



    Edit:

    By the way, there is a funny commercial about this:

    It kin net
    Bûter, brea en griene tsiis
    Wa't dat net sizze kin is gjin oprjochte Fries!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sybren View Post
    Ehm.. Dutch 'snel' is not pronounced like the English word 'snail'. The 'e' in snel is a short vowel.


    Here is one:

    If Frisians say: 'it kin net' when looking at the thickness of ice to judge if you can stand on it, we mean: 'it is NOT possible to stand on the ice'.

    When the Dutch hear a Frisian say 'it kin net', they think of the Dutch word 'net', which means 'just'. Hence they think we mean it is 'just' possible to stand on the ice.



    Edit:

    By the way, there is a funny commercial about this:

    It kin net
    I don't know how you pronounce snail.

    It is pronounced the same as the Dutch e, which can be the equivalent of an ai sound in English. The ai sound in snel is a short dutch e sound in this instance.

    snel is snel

    Both languages, snail is pronounced the same as snel.

    Sounds the same different meaning. The ai, is the english equivalent of e.

    To make a Dutch e sound in English, you need to have another vowel after the a.

    Obviously, you are pronouncing snail improperly in English if you are not pronouncing it the same as the Dutch snel.

    The phonetics in English can be confusing, so it easy to make mistakes like that.

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    Senior Member Sybren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BroBro View Post
    Obviously, you are pronouncing snail improperly in English if you are not pronouncing it the same as the Dutch snel.


    '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.
    Bûter, brea en griene tsiis
    Wa't dat net sizze kin is gjin oprjochte Fries!

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    Not sure if this is subject matter for the OP, but nevertheless.
    In high school, a German exchange student's parents came to visit him one time and they went out to eat. What better place to go than a burger joint. So at the drive through, his father was ordering when he said "Can I become a cheeseburger?" wherein German you would ask (more or less) "Kann ich einen cheeseburger bekommen" obviously he got his German mixed with his English as the brain tries to shortcut with words it already knows.
    Bekommen auf Deutsch is Get/Recieve in English, not the same as to Become with he thought was the same in English.

    That story always tickled me.

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    Senior Member Germaid's Avatar
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    I just found an extensive list with German / Dutch false friends. Looks like it's really easy to make a complete fool of yourself pretty quickly

    http://www.d-n-forum.eu/hp/page5.html

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