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Lesson Transcript


Michael: What are some Hebrew-English false friends?
Lenny: And what are some words that are often used incorrectly?
Michael: At HebrewPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following situation. Karen Lee cooked a dinner for her friends, when she hands some more bread to Tsila Tsadok, the child suddenly says,
Tsila Tsadok: די! (Day!)
Tsila Tsadok: די! (Day!)
Karen Lee: מה? (Ma?)
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Tsila Tsadok: די!
Michael: "Enough!"
Karen Lee: מה?
Michael: "What?"

Lesson focus

Michael: In this lesson, we will talk about false friends. But, don't worry, we won't give you a lecture on who you should hang out with. The term false friends or, in Hebrew,
Lenny: ידידי שקר (yedidey sheker)
Michael: is an informal term in linguistics used to describe a pair of words between two different languages that seem to be identical but convey two different meanings. The term itself is actually an abbreviation of the longer phrase "False Friends of the translator" used by linguists for the first time in 1928. False friends are also known as false cognates, where cognates mean a word of the same origin. The actual origin of these words can be difficult to track, but most of them started as loanwords from a third language and, due to cultural influences, developed different meanings in each language.
But how do false friends work?
In the main conversation, Karen Lee seems confused by the reaction of Tsila. Do you remember how Tsila says "Enough!"
(pause 4 seconds)
Lenny as Tsila: די! (Day!)
Michael: "enough" in Hebrew translates as
Lenny: די (day),
Michael: which is very similar to the English word "die."
Michael: In this lesson, you've learned that hearing a familiar word in Hebrew doesn't mean that you will understand the meaning of it, due to the phenomenon of the so-called "false friends"—words that may be written or sound the same way as their English counterparts, but have a completely different meaning.
Now, let's look at some more examples.
Michael: The first is
Lenny: סין (sin)
Michael: This sounds similar to the English "sin," but it actually means "China." The Hebrew word for "sin" is
Lenny: חטא (khet).
Michael: The next false friend is
Lenny: מים (mayim).
Michael: This word is similar to the English "mime," but it actually means "water." The Hebrew word for "mime" is
Lenny: לחקות (lekhakot).
Michael: Let's hear one more false friend:
Lenny: מי (mi).
Michael: This word is similar to the English "me," but it actually means "who." The Hebrew for "me" depending on the context translates to
Lenny:אני (ani) or לי (li) or אותי (oti)
Michael: Besides false friends, we can observe one more thing. When chatting with a native speaker, you might notice some slang words that definitely have a modern English origin but that might either not make much sense to you or have no meaning at all. That's because Hebrew slang adopted some English words, changing their original meaning. Let's have a look at some of those words and their meanings! The first is
Lenny: טייר (tayer).
Michael: This word, adopted from the English "tire." in Hebrew actually indicates the "accumulation of fat in the waist area." "Tire" in Hebrew is
Lenny: צמיג (tsamig).
Michael: Another example is the expression
Lenny: נשרף לו הפיוז (lisraf lo ha'fyuz),
Michael: which uses the English word "fuse" and literally translates as "he burned his fuse," but it means "he lost his self control." The word for "fuse" in Hebrew is
Lenny: נתיך (natikh).


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Lenny: !להתראות (lehitra'ot!).
Michael: See you soon!