13 ene. 2009

Difficult Spanish words and 'falsos amigos'

The site's section on difficult Spanish words looks at various items of Spanish vocabulary that can cause trouble for English-speaking learners (and sometimes foreign learners in general) because either they look similar to another Spanish word with different meaning, or because they wrongly lull the reader into thinking that they have a particular meaning.

For example, the Spanish word actual, generally carrying the meaning of current, presentday, would virtually never be translated by the English word actual. A carpeta in Spanish is a folder: nothing to do with carpets! Various books for Spanish learners give lists of similar words, sometimes referred to as falsos amigos or "false friends".

However, a problem with the typical list of falsos amigos is that many of these words sometimes can actually carry the meaning of their English counterpart. Many textbooks that give a simple list actually present a misleadingly pessimistic view! So in our treatment of tricky Spanish words on the Español-Inglés site, instead of a simple list of words, we try to give an explanation of how the word in question is used, comparing and contrasting it with the use of its apparent English counterpart.

Comments and suggestions for new falsos amigos or otherwise additions to the section are always welcome and can be left on this blog entry.