Welcome to the swamp! Here, lurking in the muck, where creativity spawns, you'll find Mrs Crocodile, aka Colleen Dunkel, a costumer and teacher based in Basel, Switzerland.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Falso friendo

I knew my German had really improved this year when I started spitting at my boss.   

I feel for you if you are struggling to survive in a language, where, correct me if I'm wrong, but enunciate and spit are the same word.  To honor this German mishap, I would like to dedicate this post to what language teachers call: False Friends and "borrowed" words.  If you are not aware of these little nasty guys parading as friends, get to know them. They steal about in different languages usually dressed in drag in the foreign language you are supposed to be learning.  They will really mess up your conversations when you are trying to be serious. 

On the up-side they will lend your small talk some pep when dinner parties turn to "Yawn, no, actually I wasn't falling asleep, please tell me more about what it was like to buy your house".  Drinking enough wine and telling stories about my family seems to help my listeners' eyes widen, too.  But if you never got arrested or no-one got kidnapped or no-one discovered the other side of the rainbow, and not one of your family members ever went diving with sharks, try the false friends and borrowed words topic.  Talking about language in Switzerland is a national past-time anyway.  So, in a country which does not boast of insipid traffic jams or baseball, rugby or late trains, language talk is small talk.

So if the words are borrowed, would you give back eine Dousche, das Handy, der Oldtimer, der Smoking, der Slip or der Pullunder?  To name a few.  They are, and to mess you up a bit, I'm not writing them in the correct order: cell phone, tuxedo, underpants, a shower, vintage car, undershirt.  However, I think the the most famous false friend, which really messes up German, French and Italian as regards English speakers is Preservative--strangely some language teachers insist that it is borrowed, as if any speaker was going to give back the word, because, well, honestly, who knows where the condom has been? 

Yours, because, you are a good friend, and I just thought someone should be looking out for you,
Mrs Crocodile



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