Английский язык.ru

                



Курсы английского языка


False Friends

In 1944, a new song called ‘Is You Is, or Is You Ain’t My Baby’ was released in the US.  Despite the obvious linguistic inaccuracies of the title (or perhaps because of them), it became an overnight success.  And though the wording may sound strange at first, its meaning does eventually come through.  Essentially the song asks “are you or aren’t you being true to me?”  In many ways, this same question could be asked of the relationship which exists between many words which are similar in English and Russian or even some words which are similar in both British English and American English.  Having previously written about the concept of loanwords- words taken directly into one language from another with little or no translation (see Immigrant English), it only seems fair that equal time should be given to the concept of ‘false friends’. 

False friends are pairs of words in two languages (e.g. English and Russian) or two dialects of the same language (e.g. British and American English) that look and/or sound similar, but differ in meaning.  Though there are many reasons why false friends have developed, too many to list in this article, suffice it to say that false friends can cause difficulty for students learning foreign languages because students are likely to misidentify the words due to their linguistic similarities.

The following words represent only a partial sampling of English and Russian false friends.

Russian word English translation English false friend English meaning

ангина

tonsillitis

angina

severe chest pain

фабрик

factory

fabric

cloth

стул

chair

stool

footstool

конкурс

competition

concourse

coming together

шеф

boss, leader

chef

expert cook

лунатнк

sleep-walker

lunatic

insane

магазин

shop or store

magazine

periodical

гимназия

grammar school

gymnasium

sports hall

кабинет

office or study

cabinet

cupboard

Other Russian-English false friends include аккуратный vs. accurate, артист vs. artist, аудитория vs. auditorium, декорация vs. decoration, интеллигентный vs. intelligent, комплекция vs. complexion, композитор vs. compositor, марка vs. mark, новелла vs. novel, оператор vs. operator, проспект vs. prospect, фамилия vs. family, физик vs. physique and dozens more.  Interestingly, it should be noted that the meaning of the Russian word in many, if not most, of these false friend pairs is usually the same meaning as was ascribed to the original word from which both words were borrowed; thus making English the culprit guilty of linguistic defamation.  Of course, pointing the finger of blame at English today now serves little purpose as these false friends will remain false friends and nothing is going to change that.  And so, asking, “Is you is, or is you ain’t my baby” will lead you to the same inevitable response, “I isn’t, I ain’t and I ain’t ever gonna to be.”    

By Rob Jensky,
Director of Language Link School



     Поиск по сайту
       
.
     Подписка на новости
       
      Рассылки Subscribe.Ru

<< Назад  Обсудить на форуме >>          


TopList



Обучение за рубежом



Ваши предложения
©1998-2019 Английский язык.ru