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False friends and a „false” colony – a penal one – AUSTRALIA

False friends are pairs of words in two languages or dialects (or letters in two alphabets) that look or sound similar, but differ in meaning. False cognates, by contrast, are similar words in different languages that appear to have a common historical linguistic origin (whatever their current meaning) but actually do not.

Both false friends and false cognates can cause difficulty for students learning a foreign language, particularly one that is related to their native language, because students are likely to identify the words wrongly due to linguistic interference. As false friends are a common problem for language learners, many teachers sometimes compile lists of false friends as an aid for their students.

For exemple, the words preservative (English), préservatif (French),  prezervativ (Romanian) are all derived from the Latin word præservativum. However, in all of these languages except English, the predominant meaning of the word is now condom.

Here is a short list with the most common false friends that are common to English and Romanian. I bet many of you have been tricked by them… 😀

English word Wrong translation in


Correct translation in


actual actual real, adevǎrat
actually actual de fapt
advertisement avertisement reclamă, anunţ publicitar
apology apologie scuză
arm armă braţ
ballot balot vot
bucket buchet găleată
chef chef bucătar şef
curve curve curbă
cutie cutie drăguţică
eventually eventual în cele din urmă
excited excitat agitat, emoţionat
fabric fabrică stofă, ţesătură
far far departe
gymnasium gimnaziu sală de gimnastică
infatuation infatuare pasiune, dragoste nebună, zăpăcire
library librărie bibliotecă
magazine magazine revistă
mare mare iapă
novel nuvelă roman
pregnant pregnant gravidă
prize prize premiu
preservative prezervativ conservant
slut slută curvă

…. and I bet this could happen if you watch too many American movies without subtitles. 🙂

Since today’s lesson was about false friends I decided to also write about a false colony – Australia – which was first colonised by the British in order to relieve the overly full British prisons. However, only relatively small parts of Australia were used as penal settlements. Indigenous Australians inhabited the rest of the continent as well.

The threat of Aboriginal attack, together with the fact that the continent was surrounded by water was considered enough insurance to prevent any convicts ever escaping back to England – which was the primary and original purpose of the colonies.

When we think about Australia, we think about cangoroos, crocodiles and, of course, the crocodile hunter Steve Irwin.

There are many funny facts about Australia apart from the serious facts that are  known to the people world wide. The funny facts about Australia are often situational and relative. People having sparse knowledge about Australia cannot really enjoy the funny aspects of this biggest island and smallest continent.

Among the recent funny facts discovered in Australia the most notable is the fact that the first European settlers consumed more alcohol in compare to any other community. Maybe that is why Bob Hawke’s name was listed in the Guinness Book of world Record in the year 1954, for having 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds time. Later Bob Hawke was also the Prime minister of Australia. 😀

But the funniest thing is the way they speak. Here’s a quiz you can take to check your understanding of Aussie English. But, before that, you might want to watch this. So, enjoy and learn! 🙂


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