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False Friends

edited 2017-02-11 22:06:07 in General
No, not the kind that cause interpersonal problems.  I'm talking about linguistics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_friend

"False friends" are basically pairs of words that sound similar in two different languages but have totally different meanings.

For example, "target" in English and "tarjeta" in Spanish (which means "card").

Just thought it might be fun to document some of these.

First one off the top of my head has to do with place names.  Place names are sort of a particularly frequent source of this.

The country of Belgium is called 比利時 in Chinese.
In Mandarin, it's pronounced "Bǐlìshí".  I think this is probably derived from its French name, "la Belgique", which sounds vaguely like "lah behl-zheek" in English, so you hear see how the Chinese got that Mandarin transliteration.
There's no separate Cantonese transliteration, so Cantonese just uses the Cantonese pronunciation of the Mandarin transliteration's text:
bei2 lei6 si4.  That would be "bay lay see" using an American English spelling.  (The numbers are tonal inflections; you can ignore them for the purpose of comparing consonant and vowel phonemes.)

One day my mom was telling me how some family friends went on a vacation to visit their relatives.

I thought they went to Belize.

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