23 / 11 / 2022

Hello again,

Most of you probably know that you have to be careful with false friends. False friends, or false cognates, are words in English that look like a similar word in Spanish/Catalan, but don't have the same meaning. For example, the English word sensible does not mean sensible in Spanish/Catalan, but rather sensato/assenyat (we covered this in another lesson).

But there's another very similar phenomenon that causes even more confusion: it's the existence of English-looking words in Spanish/Catalan that aren't actually used in English, or are used very differently.

Consider the following Anglo-looking expressions in Spanish/Catalan and their correct translations into English:

Span/Cat: Camping
English: Campground

Span/Cat: Parking
English: Parking lot, car park, parking garage, parking place

Span/Cat: Footing
English: Jogging, running

Span/Cat: un Burguer
English: a fast-food restaurant

Span/Cat: Puenting
English: Bungee Jumping

Notice that English speakers do not say "We're going to stay in a camping during our holidays" but rather "we're going to stay in a campground during our holidays". And nobody does "footing", they "go jogging" or "go running." And the list goes on and on.

Frankly, I don't know exactly how these words are erroneously borrowed, but I think the press has a lot to do with it. I often see italicised English words in different newspapers used incorrectly, or with a slightly different meaning; In some cases, the author is probably attempting to show off his/her intellectual abilities and knowledge of English, but he/she ironically ends up promoting an incorrect use of English.

Over the next couple of days we will look at more examples.

Until then, have a great day!

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