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False friends

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Ian Dunn
198286.  Tue Aug 07, 2007 2:58 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Q: Why would Indonesia be a good place for Alan Davies?
A: In Indonesian, "Alan" means "Comedian".


The world "Alan" is an example of a false friend, which is a word that appears in more than one language, but has different meanings. Here's a list of some of the more bizarre, and ruder ones.


  • Anus - "Old woman" in Latin
  • Arse - "Violin bow" in Turkish
  • Bog - "God" in Russian
  • Boghandel - "Bookshop" in Danish
  • Bum - "Owl" in Arabic and "Bang" in Turkish
  • Dim - "Zero" in Welsh
  • Eve - "Buttocks" in the Rapa Nui language of Easter Island
  • Fart - "Talking nonsense, excess or exaggeration" in Turkish
  • Hell - "Clear, bright, light" in German
  • Jerk - "Praise for an accomplished dancer" in French
  • Loo - "Storage pot" in the Fulani language of Mali
  • Moon - "To hang oneself" in the Khakas language of Siberia
  • Nob - "To love" in the Wolof language of Gambia and Senegal
  • Prick - "Pepper" in Thai
  • Santa - "Wart" in Egyptian Arabic
  • Shagit - "To crawl on one's belly" in Albanian
  • Shit - "Dust" in Persian
  • Slut - "End or finish" in Swedish
  • Turd - "Delicate or fragile" in Persian


Source: The Meaning of Tingo by Adam Jacot de Boinod

 
smiley_face
198288.  Tue Aug 07, 2007 3:10 pm Reply with quote

If I remember correctly, there was some amusement surrounding Pippa Funnell's name at the Athens Olympics. Apparently "Pippa" means "fellatio" in Greek.

 
Hans Mof
198289.  Tue Aug 07, 2007 3:22 pm Reply with quote

More of these can be found in post 93407 and following.

I'd like to add slagroom (Dutch for whipped cream).

 
King of Quok
198294.  Tue Aug 07, 2007 3:36 pm Reply with quote

Constipado, the Spanish for 'suffering from a head-cold' is always bound to cause trouble or amusement. To add to the list above Mist is the German for 'dung' or 'crap'.

 
suze
198302.  Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:08 pm Reply with quote

The Greek word πίπα (pipa) literally means "pipe", but "to suck the pipe" does indeed appear to be Greek slang for the act of fellation (it's in Urban Dictionary, so it must be true).

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pipa

Snopes suggests that the Greek TV people got around the issue by referring to Mrs Funnell as "Philippa" - which is, after all, her name.

It would have been even worse if the Olympic equestrian events had been held in Sweden as they were in 1956 - in Swedish, pippa means "to fuck".

http://lexin.nada.kth.se/cgi-bin/swe-eng


Incidentally, Mr Jacot de Boinod was a QI elf way back in the days of A series - and it was apparently while researching a question on the subject of Albania that he became interested in foreign languages, an interest which led him to write The Meaning of Tingo.


There are of course any number of foreign words which are "amusing" in English. Should you ever visit Myanmar, you'll need to know that the word for the number eight is "shit".

 
smiley_face
198303.  Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:10 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
There are of course any number of foreign words which are "amusing" in English. Should you ever visit Myanmar, you'll need to know that the word for the number eight is "shit".


Duly noted.

 
mckeonj
198316.  Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:43 pm Reply with quote

We really should have a Forum for This Kind of Thing; how about 'The Bike Sheds'.

 
markvent
198392.  Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:25 am Reply with quote

Ian Dunn wrote:
Source: The Meaning of Tingo by Adam Jacot de Boinod


Adam was a QI Elf ... but I'm sure we all knew that !

Mark.

 
Neotenic
198397.  Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:34 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
There are of course any number of foreign words which are "amusing" in English. Should you ever visit Myanmar, you'll need to know that the word for the number eight is "shit".


Any idea what the Burmese is for 'Murderous Junta'?


I have also heard that if you translate 'Allow me to introduce myself' literally into French, it's meaning is rather more intimate than you may have wished.

There is also something about Dutch that makes the bulk of it, to my child-like mind, sound faintly smutty.

 
mckeonj
198401.  Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:47 am Reply with quote

Neotenic wrote:

There is also something about Dutch that makes the bulk of it, to my child-like mind, sound faintly smutty.


There is a marvellous passage in Bill Bryson's 'Neither here Nor there' in which he records a Dutch conversation as it sounded to him, as it were in English.
Quote:
I asked the kind-faced proprietor if he had a single room.
'Oh, I don't believe so,' he said, 'but let me check with my wife.'
He thrust his head through a doorway of beaded curtains and called,
'Marta, what stirs in your leggings? Are you most moist?'
From the back a voice bellowed, 'No, but I tingle when I squirt.'
'Are you of assorted odours?' 'Yes, of beans and sputum.'
'And what of your pits - do they exude sweetness?' 'Truly.'
'Shall I suckle them at eventide?' 'Most heartily!'
He returned to me wearing a sad look. 'I'm sorry, I thought there might have been a cancellation, but unfortunately not.'
'A smell of petroleum prevails throughout,' I said by way of thanks and departed.


Last edited by mckeonj on Wed Aug 08, 2007 4:59 am; edited 1 time in total

 
markvent
198403.  Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:49 am Reply with quote

markvent wrote:
Ian Dunn wrote:
Source: The Meaning of Tingo by Adam Jacot de Boinod


Adam was a QI Elf ... but I'm sure we all knew that !

Mark.


completely off topic .. I note that Vitali Vitaliev is one of the QI Elves .. would that be Moscow Correspondent Vitali Vitaliev from the Clive James Show ;)

Mark.

 
markvent
198405.  Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:55 am Reply with quote

mckeonj wrote:
Neotenic wrote:

There is also something about Dutch that makes the bulk of it, to my child-like mind, sound faintly smutty.


There is a marvellous passage in Bill Bryson's 'Here there and everywhere' in which he records a Dutch conversation as it sounded to him, as it were in English.
I will post it here if I can find the book, and if I can scan it, and if the OCR works.


"It sounds like nothing so much as a particular version of English.
Katz and I often noticed this. We would be walking down the street when a stranger would step from the shadows and say, 'Hello, sailors, care to grease my flanks?' or something, and all he would want was a light for his cigarette. It was disconcerting."

Mark.

 
Hypnobabe
223508.  Wed Oct 24, 2007 7:08 pm Reply with quote

My particular favourites are in Estonian:

Eesti for tree is puu

Eesti for cake is kok (not sure of the spelling of that one)

Phonetic Eesti for 'twelve months' (I've only ever heard it said, not seen it written down and only in certain cases, apparently, Estonian is a very complicated language by all accounts) is coxtaste good!!

And I have to say, being at a seminar in Estonia where everything is translated by Estonians who know why that last particular phrase is funny was a hoot, and resulted in the British contingent finding some rather inventive uses of the phrase....

 
suze
223512.  Wed Oct 24, 2007 7:36 pm Reply with quote

Estonian is certainly infernally complicated; there are fourteen cases, and the noun following a number is in the partitive singular, not - as you'd perhaps expect - in the nominative plural.

So yes, the Estonian for twelve months is kaksteist kuud.

 
Flash
223571.  Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:30 am Reply with quote

markvent wrote:
would that be Moscow Correspondent Vitali Vitaliev from the Clive James Show

Yes, it would.

 

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