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Aprile 2008

Something about Italian false friends

Italian false friends are those words whose meaning is misleading, that is they seem to have the same meaning as in English, but actually they do not. They always drive students crazy, especially beginners. Here are the most common Italian false friends:
Libreria is not library but bookshop.
Biblioteca is library.
Camera is not camera but bedroom.
Attualmente means currently.
Argomento means subject, for example: “l’argomento della lezione di oggi è il congiuntivo”.
Litigio or discussione means argument.
Cantina means cellar, especially for wines, so it also means Wine factory.
Mensa means canteen, for example “la mensa universitaria”, the univeristy canteen.
Confidenza is not confidence but intimacy.
Confidence is fiducia.
Convenienza means cheapness (it is a word you will find in all shops and supermarkets).
Delusione means disappointment, for example: “quel film è stato per me una delusione” = that movie disappointed me.
Illusione is delusion.
Educato means polite, well-mannered.
Istruzione means education, for example: “il Ministero dell’Istruzione” is the Ministry of Education.
Eventualmente is not eventually, but possibly or in that case or if necessary. For example: “Non preoccuparti, eventualmente vengo la settimana prossima” = Don’t worry. In that case I’d come next week.
Alla fine can be translated by eventually or finally.
Finalmente is normally translated by at last, for example: “Finalmente ce l’ho fatta!”= at last I made it! or for example: “Finalmente sei arrivato!” = You’ve arrived, eventually!
Fabbrica is factory and fattoria is a farm, for example: “la fattoria degli animali” = Animal farm (by G. Orwell).
Genitore is a parent and custode is janitor.
Grosso is big and volgare is gross.
Rude in Italian means rough.
Rozzo, maleducato mean rude in English.
Preservativo is condom.
Conservanti mean preservatives, so please do not say: “questa marmellata non contiene preservativi“.
Lussuria is lust and lusso is luxury.
Glaciale (molto freddo) means frigid, for example: “un clima glaciale” or “un’accoglienza glaciale” = a frigid reception. Frigid in English also means frigido (no flase friend in this case, but pay attention when you use it!).
Morbido is soft and morboso is morbid.
Rumore is a noise and voci or chiacchiere (plural in Italian) can be translated by rumour.
Romanzo is a novel and novella is a short story, generally speaking, of the old times (a sort of tale).
Storia d’amore means romance.
There are many other false friends. You can find them here or here. There is even quiz game you can play.

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