Tuesday, 13 December 2016

German false friends

Aachen (Germany) - July (continued)

On the Saturday afternoon of my first weekend in Aachen, we were sitting in the garden of one of Silke’s friends. Suddenly, her friend exclaimed, “Look! There’s an ‘Igel’” (pronounced ‘egel’).
          “An eagle?!” I thought. “Wow!” 
          "Ein Igel!" I cried."That's unbelievable!" My eyes scanned the sky but I couldn't see any birds at all. Then I realised that the friend was pointing at the hedge.
          "An eagle in the hedge?! That's even more amazing!" Silke and her friends gazed at me with baffled expressions.
          It turned out that the German word ‘Igel’ actually means hedgehog. Oops!
          There are several words like this in both French and German. They are often called ‘false friends’. That is to say, they bear strong resemblance to English words thus leading you to believe they have the same meaning whereas actually they have totally different translations. The German word ‘Chef’, for example, actually means boss in English. The German ‘Fabrik’ translates as factory. And one you really don’t want to get wrong, if anybody ever offers you ‘Gift’ in Germany, do not accept it!! It is not a present but poison!  


  1. Hi There! Two years ago I wrote an article with French/German faux amis, because there are so many!! If you feel like it, you can have a look at my article ;) https://apprendreallemand.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/faux-amis-allemand/

    Bis bald!