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Funny or embarrassing miscommunication / misunderstanding caused by false friends

I was just wondering if anybody has found themselves in a funny or embarrassing situation because of "false friends" (they are the words in your target language that sound similar to the ones in your native language but have a different meaning). 

For example, I once talked to a Polish lady and we discussed national Polish and Russian cuisine. She told me about Polish "pirogy" and how they were so tasty and she mentioned that they boiled them. Now, in Russian we have the word "пироги" which sounds like "pirogy". It is a kind of fried pastry with different fillings and to boil them would be really weird. So, I thought it was really extravagant that they boiled pastry in Poland. I shared with some other friend who explained to me that actually "pirogy" is the same as "пельмени" or dumplings in Russian and it makes perfect sense to boil them! 

I know my story is not too entertaining (unless you are a chef lol) but I was wondering if others have something funny to share.


Mar 1, 2018 10:21 AM
Comments · 3

One of my students and I were reading a short story when the expression "femme d'affaires" (business woman) came up, and she stopped and shouted out, "What? A woman of affairs? She had many affairs before she was married?" 

We both laughed a lot once I explained that "les affaires" here refers to business, and not illicit romantic entanglements. 

March 1, 2018
I once said to someone in French that "actuellement, je t'aime bien". He looked upset. I later realised that "actuellement" means "currently" or "as of now" and not "actually" as we tend to say in English. So I ended up saying "As of now, I like you." Not very flattering! The French use "en fait" to convey the same meaning.
March 1, 2018
March 1, 2018
Language Skills
English, French, German, Russian
Learning Language
French, German