Embarrassing cursing

Most people are very comfortable cursing in their native language, because it is (for so many of us) something we do every day. In recent years, certain English curse words have become very popular also in other languages, most notably the four-letter word starting with an F (yes, an F, see here). However, cursing in

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Give, hold, visit, attend a lecture

In my professional environment (university), I often hear and even read two literal and rather awkward translations from German to English. First, people like to use the expression to hold a lecture because the corresponding German expression is eine Vorlesung halten. However, the correct English expression is (see here) to give a lecture. Similarly, the

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False friend alert: study (Studium)

A remarkable number of German native speakers, including university professors and even Nobel Prize winners, make the mistake of translating Studium into study. For example, they would write 1997-2001 Study of physics in their CV. However, the English noun study translates into the German Studie, but not into Studium. A proper translation to English would

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beamer vs. projector

English words that are frequently used in the German language can easily become false friends when used with the same meaning in English. A classic example is Handy, the widely used term for mobile phone (or cell phone), which will certainly confuse native speakers a lot. While very few advanced speakers make the mistake of

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Fresh from the source…

I just came across a very dangerous false friend while listening to a scientific talk. This time, it’s a false friend for non-native German speakers. Please, do not translate the English word ordinary as ordinär. The former means gewöhnlich (common) or einfach (simple), whereas the latter means vulgär (vulgar).

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