False Friends in Italian

There are a lot of words that sound similar in different languages and yet mean very different things! As a Russian living in Italy and trying my best to speak the language, I have experienced the feeling of running into some misunderstandings.

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• The verb “attendere” does not mean to attend as in to frequent a place. Instead, in Italian it is a synonym for waiting for someone/something.
• The adverb “attualmente” is one that students in Italian classes really despise. In fact, it does not translate into the English “actually”, instead, it refers to something that is currently going on.

• The noun “camera” does not indicate any piece of photographic equipment but it is the Italian word for “room,” as in bedroom (camera da letto in Italian)confetti

• The noun “confetti”, which in English only exists in the plural, does not stand for colorful bits of paper thrown to celebrate festive events. In Italian, a confetto is a bite-sized sweet, made of a sugared almonds in its traditional form, that newlyweds and parents of newborns distribute to guests at wedding and baptism celebrations.

• The noun “educazione” does not translate into “education” as it seems automatic to think, but it is the Italian term for “good manners.”

• The nofattoriaun “fattoria” does definitely not indicate an industrial environment like a factory. Instead, it translates into the English “farm”.

• The noun “libreria” is one that university students use a lot and often get wrong. In Italian it does not indicate a place where one can go study and borrow books, which is instead called biblioteca. Instead, a libreria is a bookstore.

• The noun “parenti” is a collective noun for all relatives, not only the term to refer to your parents who in Italian are called “genitori.”firma

• The noun “firma” is another one of those false friends that really make students go nuts. It does not mean “firm,” but signature! Indeed, when you need to sign your credit card receipt in Italy they will ask for your firma.

Want to practice your language skills? Learn Italian, Spanish, French and other languages in John Cabot University!

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Anastasiia Komarova
Communications Major
Class of 2018
Hometown: Moscow, Russia

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