More false friends

21 May
21 May 2016. As I continue to struggle with study Italian, I like to amuse myself with false cognates, or false friends: words that sound like an English equivalent but have a completely different meaning. We call them falsi amici in Italian. These are the bane of every foreign language student. If you haven’t read it already, you might enjoy my post from 2014. Here are a few more for your enlightenment or enjoyment.
Eventualmente is not something you’ll get around to, rather it means something you might do…possibly…maybe…if need be, as in “Maybe I’ll look for a new job” but you are not really motivated. If in the fullness of time something did or will happen, we say alle fine.
Attualmente is something going on at this very instant, not something that is “for real.” In Italian we might say per davvero, in realtà, or incredibilmente, depending on the context. 
A fattoria is a farm, not a factory. The place stuff is manufactured is a fabbrica. This is really confusing because fatto is the past participle of the verb for “make” so you’d think fatto=fattoria therefore “made.” Nope.
Italian sheep farm or fattoria. Not a factory.

Italian sheep farm or fattoria. Not a factory.

Confrontare does not mean to confront, but rather to compare. If you want to confront someone, the verb is affrontare.
Parente is a relative while genitore is a parent, not sexual body parts.
Cane parkingYour cane (pronounced KHAN-ay) may greet you at the door, but not allow you to lean on him for stability. One day on the bus we overheard an American couple remark “Look, cane parking!” when they saw a sign saying such and a little metal hook planted in the wall. It was, of course, a place to park your dog  with a leash tie-up.
Pretendere is demand or insist. If you are dressing up as Wonder Woman you fare finta.
Crudo means uncooked, as in prosciutto crudo, not crude. A person who is crude is rozzo.
Attendere is to await something, such as to hold the line when on the phone or to wait for the ATM screen to load, while participare is what you do when you go to the opera.
Tastare is to touch, not to check the quality of your cooking. That’s assaggiare. When one goes to a winery one does un assaggio.
In Paris we did a wine and cheese tasting, un assaggio.

In Paris, we did a wine and cheese tasting, un assaggio.

A capitolo is a chapter in a book, but Roma is the capitale of Italy.
What may be conveniente to you may be expensive to me as conveniente means affordable or suitable. Comodo means convenient as well as comfortable.
At the bottom of a letter, there is a firma (signature). This is not a company. A company is an azienda or una ditta.
A most famous firma.

A most famous firma.

Occorrere is to need, succedere is to occur.
Baldo does not describe a hairless head, but rather someone who is bold. Calvo means bald.
Accidenti is not a fender-bender: that’s an incidente. Accidenti is an exclamation like “darn it!” Safe enough to say in front of grandma.
When your computer crashes you might shout "accidenti!" (or somehting stronger.)

When your computer crashes you might shout “accidenti!” (or something stronger.)

If you want to call someone an ass, a scumbag, or a bastard, try stronzo which clearly does not mean strong. When someone parks in the pedestrian crossing, they are a stronzo. (This is not a nice word, BTW.)
Eh basta! That’s enough for now! (Basta is a perfectly nice word although it sounds rather naughty.)


16 Responses to “More false friends”

  1. Sartenada March 23, 2020 at 03:44 #

    Hello. Now when we have Coronavirus, it is good to know:

    The word Quarantine comes from Italian word quarantena, meaning forty. Quarantena giorni means 40 days.

    Stay healthy!


    • Laurel March 23, 2020 at 06:56 #

      Wow, you went far back in my archives! Thanks for reading and contributing. Wishing you good health as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Chloe Erkenbrecher May 25, 2016 at 13:03 #

    Thank you for your reply to Baroque Sicily. I do miss it. I intend to keep on reading and enjoying.


  3. Marcia May 22, 2016 at 02:08 #

    That wine and cheese pairing looked particularly delicious. I’d weigh 50 pounds more if I lived in Europe like you do.

    And loved the cane parking sign and explanation too👍


    • gooddayrome May 22, 2016 at 11:03 #

      Ah, but you’d walk, Marcia! Wait until you see! One of our cat sitters was so sure she’d gain weight and she lost 8 pounds!


  4. ckleonard May 21, 2016 at 18:48 #

    This post is fun! I must admit, however, it has my head spinning!!


    • gooddayrome May 22, 2016 at 11:02 #

      My head spins daily! It all sounds good in my head, and then when I get in front of an Italian I sputter and stumble!


  5. Gayle May 21, 2016 at 15:55 #

    Love this information, Laurel. And I have always wondered about “basta”, but even though I now know it is polite, I think I will refrain. And so many of the other examples are just subtle enough to REALLY screw things up. It seems Italian for all its lyrical sounds, is a tricky language. Thanks!


    • gooddayrome May 21, 2016 at 16:14 #

      I think all languages are tricky! I love the one from Susanne about the word “gift!”

      Basta is a great word. You can say to a crying, whining child Basta, smettila! (Enough! Stop it!) or to the cheese monger Basta cosi (That’s enough) or when you finish a task just Basta!


  6. Susanne May 21, 2016 at 10:01 #

    I enjoy your blog thank you ! As a native German living in the USA I can relate to you . I was in Italy last month for the first time and fell in love with the country it’s people and food. I will be back end of August flying into Rome btw. I can’t wait !


    • gooddayrome May 21, 2016 at 12:52 #

      Hi Susanne and thank you for the kind words! It woudl be fun for you to visit the German-speaking area in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Sudtirol.

      Tell me, what false cognates give you problems between German and English?


      • Susanne May 21, 2016 at 13:30 #

        When I flew from Germany to the states at the tender age of 21 they had me fill out a form before landing . One of the questions was if I brought any gifts ? I could for the life of me not figure it out because in German gift is poison ! Lol I was wondering why anyone would want to bring poison into the country ? As for Rome we are there 1 night and a day staying in the Trevi district . After that we are heading to Tuscany. I like to see a few things but it’s def overwhelming .we are staying at the beehive .

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Chloe Erkenbrecher May 21, 2016 at 09:30 #

    An aside here. Do you know what has happened to Baroque Sicily? I miss reading it and seeing the photos. Please don’t you stop posting.


    • gooddayrome May 21, 2016 at 12:50 #

      No idea on Baroque Sicily. Her blog was last updated at Christmas! Sometimes people just move on. I intend to keep on keeping on!


  8. gooddayrome May 21, 2016 at 07:51 #

    Thanks, Chloe, we did have a lovely food tour of St. Germaine with Paris by Mouth. We love these little stopovers in Paris between Rome and the U.K. We’ll be back again in September. “Eventualmente” is a funny word and I find it difficult to use correctly, but “attualmente” throws me completely.


  9. Chloe Erkenbrecher May 21, 2016 at 07:42 #

    I fear that my ‘eventualmente’ is more in line with that of the Italians. When I say ‘eventually’, it generally means I probably won’t ever get around to doing it. I assume that you had a bonne degustation in Paris.


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