Here are four of my favorite posts!
Having Fun With Oxymorons
Have you ever met this riddle
As you’ve walked throughout your life?
A pessimistic optimist,
A materialistic mystic,
Prejudicial towards tolerance,
And realistic dreamer…
A sedentary sportsman,
Not to speak of fighter for peace and
A hunter and animalist…
A pragmatic idealist not to speak of
A male feminist.
An international nationalist
A capitalistic socialist
And just to top it off…
An organized anarchist.
My friend the oxymoron,
Walks the world among us,
And it might well surprise you to find
He’s hidden everywhere even in your soul.
Now tell me my dear friends
what do you think now of my
Have you any more examples?
Please share them here with me,
If you can spare the time,
At that point we will read them and decide
Maybe agreeing to disagree!
In Italy, a filibustiere is a pirate…a filibuster in English is a parliamentary procedure to block legislature, which would be ostruzionismo in Italian.
In Italy, an argumento is a theme…an argument in English is to have a verbal disagreement or fight, which would be litigare in Italian.
In Italy, egrego is found at the beginning of most business letters and it means illustrious, but in English an egregious person, is a fantastical liar, in Italian it would be a bugiardo (but a similar sounding word in English would be budge, or to move).
In Italy, parenti are one’s relatives…in English parents are our mother and father, which would be genitori in Italian (not to be confused by the English speakers as generators).
In Italy, a fattoria is a farm…in English a factory is well a factory, which in Italian is fabbrica (and fabric in Italian is tessuto which shouldn’t be confused with the English tissue or Kleenex).
In Italy, ostrica is an oyster…in English an ostrich is a very big African bird that can’t fly, which in Italian is struzzo.
In Italy, rumore is a sound…in English a rumor is a story that’s going around or gossip, which in Italian is a diceria.
In Italy, camera is a room…in English camera is what we use to take photographs (unless of course you’re using your telephone) in Italian it’s macchina fotografica.
In Italy annoiare is to bore…in English annoy is to bother someone, which in Italian is infastidire.
In Italy morbido is soft…in English morbid is something unhealthy or dark (as in a morbid sense of humor) which in Italian is morboso.
In Italian novella is a short story…in English a novel a book which in Italian would be a romanzo and might not have anything to do with romance.
And just to end up in glory (there are so many that I’d probably have to write a novel to fit them all in) in Italy avviso is a warning(often of danger)…but in English advice is to give a suggestion, which in Italian would be a consigliare.
P.S. If someone invites you to meet them at a bar at 7:00 in the morning in Italy….You’ll order this:
But if you go to an American bar…well, you won’t find one open at 7:00 in the morning, you’ll go later in the day and have beer and peanuts (in Italy too as far as that goes!)
Do any of you have some funny false friends you’d like to share????
I’ve had the privilege of being born in an English speaking nation but living my entire adult life in countries where that language is rarely spoken, except as a second language, of sorts! This has at times played a bit of havoc with my spelling, and if the truth be known also the way I’ve come to pronounce some of the vast amount of words that I’ve picked up over the last 40 some years, often giving them a British twist, or Latinizing the pronunciation (ergo: Euro for me is an Aro)!
Just as an example (though I think I actually learnt it this way whilst I was growing up, I’ll have to ask my sister): the word gynaecologist…I’ve always pronounced it “ginicologist” whereas I’ve found it should be “guynacologist” long ago…but, in fact in my mind, I’d tend to spell the word genecologist and have done with it…but it seems none of the various dictionaries agree with me: Genecology does exist BUT it’s: a combination of genetics and ecology that studies animal species and their environment. OR: the study of the gene frequency of a species in relation to its population distribution within a particular environment. Sigh…no, you really must be careful simplifying English spelling and pronunciation….
Which takes me right into one of the stickiest and oldest problems of the English language: spelling and pronunciation.
I got onto this particular subject today, thanks to one of a group of persons I meet with each week in order to practice English…well, they’re supposed to be doing the practicing and I’m supposed to be helping them with their pronunciation and whatever. The word corps came up in a reading I’d provided for them, and someone pronounced it “corpse” and although very often, dealing with military units, it’s what they produce, we do in fact avoid saying that and say “core”.
One often notices in English, that a simple silent e at the end of a word creates, not only a totally different meaning but also a different pronunciation. Let’s take pan which becomes pane, pin which becomes pine or hop which becomes hope. It’s easy to see that that silent “e” in fact is essential in order to tell the difference between the two words. But then someone will hop up hoping that I’ll explain why “have” has a silent “e” and I think back to all those strange lessons I’ve given (and received) on the evolution of the English language and just want to throw my hands up and say: because that’s how it’s done!
I love English and the challenges it provides, both learning it and teaching it. Not to speak of the wonderfully humorous situations that can befall learners and teachers do to “false friends” and mispronunciations due to the different phonetic value given to the letters between the different languages.
It’s one of the richest and most confusing languages on this Earth. I recently found that we have just about 8,000 homophones, words that are written differently but sound the same. And I also discovered there is a great debate as to whether in fact homonyms should be included in the list (words that are spelled the same, pronounced the same but have different meanings and origins) which had passed me by, some do and some don’t. Of course the really great trickster is the homograph…words that look the same but have different pronunciations.
And then there’s grammar…it’s said we have a wonderfully simple verb system, and it’s true. If you’ve ever had to study a language like French or Italian (and they tell me that German is really tricky), you may know what I’m talking about. Our tenses are easy, our conjugations easier our grammar is the easiest in the world…until you try to pin it down with fixed rules. Rules are rules in other languages with one or two exceptions, which are a rule! Not so English. I’m sure there will be many grammarians who will shiver when I say this, in fact there are rules, but they are rules that are almost constantly broken, even by grammarians, or rather there are exceptions ad nauseam. There are tomes written about English grammar but they are often arbitrary and they can contradict each other.
People will study English for years in foreign countries, they learn all the rules, and copy vocabulary and write sentences and memorize idomatic phrases and then discover, that half of what they thought would be useful to them must be put aside, because it’s just not used. So sorry.
I won’t even touch the age old diatribe: American vs(.) British English…to be fair, I’d have to eventually include Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand English (oh, did I forget South Africa should I include ex Rhodesia now Zimbabwe) into the discussion. Not to speak of what’s been happening to the language throughout all the ex and not so ex colonies throughout the world.
But between the snobby British and the defensive Americans it seems that in fact the “Revolutionary War” or “War of Independence” has never really come to an end, as the likes of Oscar Wilde and G.B. Shaw will show us:
“The Americans are identical to the British in all respects except, of course, language.”
– Oscar Wilde
“We (the British and Americans) are two countries separated by a common language.”
All I can say is that after about 30 years, I returned to the United States for a visit, and the first thing my sister said to me was. “When did you start talking like a damned Brit?” Hmmmmmmm…I’d assure her that no Brit would ever have thought that I “talked” like a Brit. In fact, my accent, is a crazy combination of BBC British, and American Films with a little Italian and French thrown in to spice things up a bit!!!! I am in fact, a wonderful example of a true mother tongue English speaker!
The fluttering of my wings
2nd person singular
You are butterfiles
The fluttering of your wings
Second person plural
We are butterflies
The fluttering of our wings
Third person plural
They are butterflies
The fluttering of their wings