Free German Lessons

Beware of False Friends!

Lesson 6. Vocabulary

Magie - Die Zaubershow

video thumbnail Length: 5:31
Difficulty: Difficulty
Caption:60

False Friends:

word pairs in two languages that look or sound similar, but differ in meaning.

Have a look at the text below about this month's featured video which includes a few false friends in German (in bold italics) and see if you can determine their true meaning in English!

A recent study investigating male dance moves that catch a woman's eye has shown that certain dance moves executed by men are more likely to grab women's attention than others. Neither robot impersonation and windmill-like flailing of the arms nor dezente dance moves (...noch dezente Tanzbewegungen...) set female hearts racing! Men might sich auch blamieren if they dance in circles (Männer könnten sich auch blamieren, wenn sie im Kreis tanzen.).

If they, however, emphasized upper body movement, paid attention to the right action in the left shoulder, the neck and the right knee and incorporated variety into their dance patterns they might bekommen what they are after ( ...könnten sie bekommen, was sie suchen). This just leaves one question open: Which traits lie hidden behind those moves?

  • dezent = discreet, subtle ≠ decent
  • sich blamieren = make a fool of oneself ≠ to blame
  • bekommen = receive, get ≠ to become

Consider an example from one of our staff favorites.

Bitte, seien Sie jetzt ganz still.

Please, be completely silent now.

Caption 60, Magie - Die Zaubershow

For more examples of false friends, please go here. And take this quiz that tests your grasp of some common false friends!

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Learning Tip

Pick two to three clips from one category, e.g. food, which discuss the same or a similar subject. Watch them in ascending order according to their level of difficulty. While watching you will notice that some of the vocabulary is the same. This exercise will enhance your contextual understanding, as well as, reinforce familiar words, consolidate your grasp of newer words and improve your listening skills.