It’s easy to think we are the only ones who make silly mistakes with our foreign language learning.
But of course, it works both ways. And when it comes to ‘false friends’ (words that look similar in both languages but differ in meaning) trouble invariably ensues; not to mention the odd total communication breakdown.
Check out these comical errors made by Spanish speakers learning English…
1. Nope! Not Carpets. Carpeta means Folder
2. Two of those parents look suspiciously young. Parientes means Relatives
3. Oops. Constipado means Blocked up
4. Well, maybe. He could also be described as Bizarro (Handsome)
5. The camp?! No, across the field. Campo is Field
6. No sign of any fans or even an arena. Arena is Sand.
7. A classic! We can’t see if she’s embarrassed but we can see she’s Embarazada (Pregnant)
8. Looks like a bookshop to me (Librería).
9. Long, more like. Largo
10. They’ll just make it worse. Try the firemen (Bomberos)
I’ve been on the wrong end of at least one of these. I still remember the time when a Spanish friend, keen to practice her English, shared with me that she was ‘constipated’. Cue over concern on my part!
Have you got a funny story to share?
See you next time,
Jim Porter is a co-founder of Speekee, where kids learn to speak Spanish together
Jim began his Spanish learning journey in 1990. He has been a language teacher since 1994 and he lives in sunny southern Spain with his two bilingual children. Loves it! More…