False Friends Dezember 2005

How would you say this in English?

Wir brauchen neue Etiketten für die Computer-Boxen. Die alten sind nicht mehr gültig.

There are three false friends in this sentence – words that sound very similar to English words but which have a different meaning. They are ‘Etiketten’, ‘Boxen’ and ‘gültig’.

Etiketten sounds like the English word ‘etiquette’ which means ‘Umgangsformen’. The proper translation is ‘labels’. Boxen sounds like ‘Box’ which is ‘Kiste’. It should be speakers or loudspeakers. And ‘gültig’, which sounds like ‘guilty’, is ‘valid’, the opposite of which (‘ungültig’) is ‘invalid’. ‘Guilty’ is ‘schuldig’ in German. You can see the correct English translations of these words here.

Deutsch                 English

Etiketten                labels
Boxen                    speakers
Gültig                     valid (opposite: invalid)

English                   Deutsch
etiquette                Umgangsformen, Etikette
boxes                     Kisten
guilty                      schuldig

So the correct translation is “We need new labels for the computer speakers. The old ones are invalid.”


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