False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by GamerGeek » Thu 18 May 2017, 21:28

Shemtov wrote::eng: Doctor Who :ind: Hindi /ɖakʈar hũ/ "I am a doctor"
Nice.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Shemtov » Thu 18 May 2017, 23:05

:deu: Ich "I" :pol: ich "Theirs"
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Vlürch » Fri 19 May 2017, 13:32

Lao Kou wrote:Within the past few months, I've heard Neger on the German channel and nègre on the French channel, and viscerally felt that distress one feels when the n-word is invoked, because, well, these words are actually linked to the n-word, and are a part of that word's disturbing history (though I'm really not sure if they're as connotatively and emotionally charged in these languages as the n-word is in English -- native speakers can weigh in). And I can certainly understand that if you told an African-American waitron at Denny's not to be niggardly with the coffee or s/he might be getting a niggardly tip, you'd get some etymologically misunderstood but justifiable push-back.
People have a visceral reaction when they randomly hear the N-word? What. [:O]

That said, I wouldn't use "niggardly" around black people or call a black person "nigga" unless I knew they're fine with it, and even then I can only think of one time I've used it in a conversation with a black person, and that was online with a rapper in a sentence that was like "nigga wtf". There's also the difference between "-a" and "-er", of course, the latter being something I'd never actually say unironically and definitely not something I'd use to refer to anyone. Not that I'd use "nigga" unironically, either, but well. I'm not sure why, but the one variant I can't imagine even jokingly using is "negro". Maybe if I was writing a short story set in the US at a time when slavery still existed (or up until the fifties or so) and racism was relevant to the plot, it'd be appropriate to have some characters use it, but other than that... then again, I'm not a native English-speaker, and even if I was, I wouldn't be American, and I'm an insensitive asshole in general, so...

Anyway:
:rus: манда - pussy, cunt
:tur: manda - water buffalo
:isr: Aramaic מנדע (mandaʿ) - knowledge
:esp: manda - vow
:eng: Manda - three languages; one spoken in India, one in Australia and one in Tanzania
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Xonen » Fri 19 May 2017, 15:21

Vlürch wrote:then again, I'm not a native English-speaker, and even if I was, I wouldn't be American
I think this is the key issue here. You haven't grown up in a culture where the word is absolutely taboo. An illustrating example I saw once was people commenting online somewhere about being unable to utter the word while reading Mark Twain aloud in class. It seems weird to us since we don't really have a readily obvious equivalent here, but cultural conditioning rarely is that obvious unless you can look at things from an outside perspective. For instance, some people would find it rather odd that we're expected to wear pants in public even when the weather doesn't require it.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Imralu » Fri 19 May 2017, 17:37

Vlürch wrote:There's also the difference between "-a" and "-er", of course,
In my dialect, final <er> is pronounced somewhere around [6~ä~a], so I don't make this distinction without conscious effort. That said, I'm not American.
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific, AG = agent, E = entity (person, animal, thing)
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Dormouse559 » Fri 19 May 2017, 18:10

Vlürch wrote:There's also the difference between "-a" and "-er", of course, the latter being something I'd never actually say unironically and definitely not something I'd use to refer to anyone.
[:S] My advice? Don't use either of them, ironically or otherwise, unless you're holding an academic discussion about the words, and it's been established that everyone's okay with that. There's centuries of cultural baggage there, and they're not the kind of words you just use, even with full understanding of that baggage.
Vlürch wrote:I'm not sure why, but the one variant I can't imagine even jokingly using is "negro".
Well, avoid that one, too, but it actually presents the fewest problems of any of the three words you mentioned (evidenced by the fact that you felt okay with typing it out). The main issue with "negro" is that it's outdated, so it calls back to Jim Crow days and slavery, and can imply a similarly outdated mindset on race. However, "negro" was an accepted, neutral term in the past and is still acceptable in those historical contexts; for example, Martin Luther King Jr. used it in his "I Have a Dream" speech.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by GrandPiano » Wed 31 May 2017, 01:36

:ara: آسف ʾāsif "sorry" - :eng: as if
:eng: - Native
:chn: - B2
:esp: - A2
:jpn: - A2
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by GrandPiano » Tue 13 Jun 2017, 17:02

Mandarin and Japanese have quite a few orthographic false friends.

Clawgrip's already mentioned :jpn: 手紙 tegami "letter" - :chn: 手纸 shǒuzhǐ (traditional: 手紙) "toilet paper"

There's also:
:jpn: 腕 ude "arm" - :chn: 腕 wàn "wrist" (usually used as part of 手腕 shǒuwàn "wrist", 手 meaning "hand")
:jpn: 大丈夫 daijoubu "safe; all right; OK" - :chn: 大丈夫 dàzhàngfu "manly man"
:jpn: 丈夫 joubu "healthy; robust; strong" - :chn: 丈夫 zhàngfu "husband"
:jpn: 男 otoko "man; male" (a noun) - :chn: 男 nán "male" (an adjective)
:jpn: 女 onna "woman; female" (a noun) - :chn: 女 nǚ "female" (an adjective)
:jpn: 机 tsukue "desk" - :chn: 机 jī "machine; opportunity" (usually used in compound words)
:eng: - Native
:chn: - B2
:esp: - A2
:jpn: - A2
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by All4Ɇn » Tue 13 Jun 2017, 18:19

Two I discovered last night:
:jpn: 総統 sōtō "Führer" - :chn: 總統 zǒngtǒng "president"
:jpn: 元首 genshu "head of state" - :chn: 元首 yuánshǒu "Führer" (usually seen in 國家元首 guójiā yuánshǒu "head of state")

In both cases, the word meaning Führer may be seen, especially historically, referring to other heads of state but in modern usage typically refer to Hitler
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Trebor » Sat 17 Jun 2017, 20:14

Kinyarwanda umuganga 'doctor' ~ English 'gangster'

(umu- is the prefix for nouns in class I, all (or almost all) human animates, so 'umuganga' could be (mis)read as 'gang member'.)
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Iyionaku » Mon 19 Jun 2017, 12:07

Lao Kou wrote: Within the past few months, I've heard Neger on the German channel and nègre on the French channel, and viscerally felt that distress one feels when the n-word is invoked, because, well, these words are actually linked to the n-word, and are a part of that word's disturbing history (though I'm really not sure if they're as connotatively and emotionally charged in these languages as the n-word is in English -- native speakers can weigh in).
In German, "Neger" is extremely pejorative and is avoided in most contexts, but is still used in rural/uneducated circles (I guess that accounts for the English-speaking world as well). The even worse "N*gger" is taboo'd altogether.
Last edited by Iyionaku on Fri 23 Jun 2017, 05:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Dormouse559 » Wed 21 Jun 2017, 23:02

:eng: mouse /maʊ̯s/ - :fra: maous /ma.us/ "massive, large"
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Imralu » Mon 03 Jul 2017, 19:44

Trebor wrote:Kinyarwanda umuganga 'doctor' ~ English 'gangster'

(umu- is the prefix for nouns in class I, all (or almost all) human animates, so 'umuganga' could be (mis)read as 'gang member'.)
Ah, this is in Swahili too 'mganga', with only the class prefix a bit different. The meaning is more like 'witch-doctor', 'herbalist' or 'medicine man' in Swahili though, with 'daktari' used for scientific doctors.
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific, AG = agent, E = entity (person, animal, thing)
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by qwed117 » Tue 04 Jul 2017, 01:23

:usa: "under" /ʌndɻ̩/ ~ :ind: अंदर/andar "inside" /ən̪d̪əɾ/
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Lao Kou » Tue 04 Jul 2017, 05:25

GrandPiano wrote:Mandarin and Japanese ... orthographic false friends.

:jpn: 机 tsukue "desk" - :chn: 机 jī "machine; opportunity" (usually used in compound words)
Certainly in terms of modern mainland usage, your point is not lost, but here, in the senses you're indicating, 机 is the simplified form of 機. Meanwhile there is the character 几, not the simplified form of 幾, but a character in its own right, which does mean a small table, and 机 is listed as an alternative form. Seen in that light, they're not really false friends at all. Interestingly, at least to me, is that, as "small table", mainland resources list it as first tone jī, while Taiwan resources list it as third tone jǐ. Uncle Hanzi offers both.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by DesEsseintes » Wed 05 Jul 2017, 22:21

Lao Kou wrote:
GrandPiano wrote:Mandarin and Japanese ... orthographic false friends.

:jpn: 机 tsukue "desk" - :chn: 机 jī "machine; opportunity" (usually used in compound words)
Certainly in terms of modern mainland usage, your point is not lost, but here, in the senses you're indicating, 机 is the simplified form of 機. Meanwhile there is the character 几, not the simplified form of 幾, but a character in its own right, which does mean a small table, and 机 is listed as an alternative form. Seen in that light, they're not really false friends at all. Interestingly, at least to me, is that, as "small table", mainland resources list it as first tone jī, while Taiwan resources list it as third tone jǐ. Uncle Hanzi offers both.
The word 茶几 chájī tea table is still in use, at least in the Chinese antique trade.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Trebor » Thu 06 Jul 2017, 19:38

Imralu wrote:Ah, this is in Swahili too 'mganga', with only the class prefix a bit different. The meaning is more like 'witch-doctor', 'herbalist' or 'medicine man' in Swahili though, with 'daktari' used for scientific doctors.
I'm still a beginner in Kinyarwanda, so maybe 'umuganga' has or can have the same connotations as 'mganga'. FWIW, Kinyarwanda.net lists two other terms for 'doctor', one of which is a French borrowing.

Two more examples for our thread:

Nuer wum ‘nose’ ~ English womb (source here*)

Kanuri shîm 'eye' ~ shî 'foot/leg'** (source here)

*Alas, the article doesn't seem to be available online for free; the link given is just the first that came up.

**I wonder if the author made a typo? If anyone can do so, please look up the Kanuri and English terms in a bilingual dictionary and comment here. (My screenreader makes such a task difficult.)
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by clawgrip » Tue 11 Jul 2017, 14:22

Lao Kou wrote:
GrandPiano wrote:Mandarin and Japanese ... orthographic false friends.

:jpn: 机 tsukue "desk" - :chn: 机 jī "machine; opportunity" (usually used in compound words)
Certainly in terms of modern mainland usage, your point is not lost, but here, in the senses you're indicating, 机 is the simplified form of 機. Meanwhile there is the character 几, not the simplified form of 幾, but a character in its own right, which does mean a small table, and 机 is listed as an alternative form. Seen in that light, they're not really false friends at all. Interestingly, at least to me, is that, as "small table", mainland resources list it as first tone jī, while Taiwan resources list it as third tone jǐ. Uncle Hanzi offers both.
Meanwhile in Japanese, both 機 and 机 are used for machine and desk respectively, while 几 is an uncommon, mostly unused character. I would call these false friends though, because when I see 机 in Chinese, I would have thought (until now) that it meant desk or table or some such, not realizing it was a simplification of 機.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Lao Kou » Tue 11 Jul 2017, 16:59

clawgrip wrote:
Lao Kou wrote:
GrandPiano wrote:Mandarin and Japanese ... orthographic false friends.

:jpn: 机 tsukue "desk" - :chn: 机 jī "machine; opportunity" (usually used in compound words)
Certainly in terms of modern mainland usage, your point is not lost, but here, in the senses you're indicating, 机 is the simplified form of 機. Meanwhile there is the character 几, not the simplified form of 幾, but a character in its own right, which does mean a small table, and 机 is listed as an alternative form. Seen in that light, they're not really false friends at all. Interestingly, at least to me, is that, as "small table", mainland resources list it as first tone jī, while Taiwan resources list it as third tone jǐ. Uncle Hanzi offers both.
Meanwhile in Japanese, both 機 and 机 are used for machine and desk respectively, while 几 is an uncommon, mostly unused character. I would call these false friends though, because when I see 机 in Chinese, I would have thought (until now) that it meant desk or table or some such, not realizing it was a simplification of 機.
I guess I'm always going to get gummed up in these false friend/false cognate threads. No one enjoys free verbal association more than the Kou -- I use it all the time -- but as I've said before, words like "sensible", "actuellement", and "blamieren" feel more like false friends, because you feel like you can glide over them as you read, only to find the actual sense takes you down a different path.

As we've seen, Chinese 机 and Japanese 机 are cognates, or at least have a mother-daughter relationship. As GrandPiano points out, Chinese 机 is used in compounds and not left alone, floating in space, like 机 in Japanese, so it'd be:

飞机 airplane
危机 crisis
机会 opportuninty
机器 machine

If you have flying tea tables, you're in the realm of:

Image

and I'm jiggy with that.
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Re: False friends and other unfortunate coincidences

Post by Imralu » Wed 12 Jul 2017, 02:10

Trebor wrote:**I wonder if the author made a typo? If anyone can do so, please look up the Kanuri and English terms in a bilingual dictionary and comment here. (My screenreader makes such a task difficult.)
According to this dictionary, shî means "the leg", "the foot" or "the footprint" and shîm means "the eye", so it seems not to be a typo (or if it is, it's one that is being repeated, haha). What made you suspect a typo?

And mentioning the Nuer word for 'nose' made me think about the Swahili word for nose, which is 'pua'. This is how an Australian would pronounce 'pooer' meaning 'one who or that which poos'.
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