Archive 2014

How to pronounce the chemical elements

Below you can find a list of the most important chemical elements and their correct pronunciation. Elements which are often pronounced incorrectly are highlighted in red. I have previously written about iron and copper. Let me also remind you that in English, the letter y (which appears in elements such as Beryllium or Yttrium) is

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A comment on no comment

Have you noticed that the phrase “no comment” is now also used in other languages, but often pronounced in a strange way? The correct pronunciation of comment is [ˈkɒment] (British English) or [ˈkɑːment] (American English). A rather common mistake (especially among German speakers) is to stress comment on the second syllable, similar to the words

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How to pronounce v and f in English

Have you seen the new Rightguard commercial on German TV yet? It is about a product called “5”. I mention it here because the English number five is pronounced incorrectly, namely as [faɪf] instead of [faɪv]. You can hear the correct pronunciation here. This common mistake among German speakers is also often made in the

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self-made vs. home-made

The English expression self-made is quite often incorrectly used as a translation of the German word selbstgemacht. A classic example is I brought self-made cake to work today. (Wrong) Interestingly, the situation is more complicated than I expected. In particular, whether or not self-made is a false friend (and should be replaced with home-made) depends

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Got eggs?

I recently came across a hilarious false friend in the discussion forum of a newspaper website. A German native speaker who seemed to be very keen on using English expressions accidentally translated the colloquial German expression “Eier haben” (Mut haben, to have courage) as “to have eggs” by writing Der Mann hat eggs. The correct

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False friend alert: to go studying (studieren gehen)

My fellow German native speakers tend to make the mistake of translating the expression studieren gehen as to go studying. However, the correct English expression is to go to university. Moreover, in a previous post, I had pointed out that the noun study is not the English translation of Studium but instead means Studie. Therefore, a

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Blame yourself for using this false friend

German native speakers often believe that the expression “to blame oneself” is the English equivalent of “sich blamieren”. However, “to blame oneself” means to hold oneself responsible for something bad, and translates to “sich selbst die Schuld geben” in German. A correct English expression for “sich blamieren” is “to make a fool of oneself”.  

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