A note or an appointment

A note or an appointment? How many times you get confused because of a bad translation? The sentence doesn’t make any sense because a word was not translated correctly. You ask the person what do they mean but sometimes with no results It can lead to rather hilarious situations. These situations are more common in a more informal context. Usually among migrants, that after a long period of time living in a different country may start mixing the words of both languages, or may not be fluent in their second language and therefore tend to make this type of error.

Usually these situations are due to false friends.

False friends are words that can be confused with words with a totally different meaning in another language because they have a very similar spelling. There are lots of false friends between Portuguese and English and that sometimes leads to very funny translations.

A note or appointment?

In Portuguese there is a word with similar spelling to appointment in English. This word is “apontamento”. But “apontamento” does not mean a formal engagement like in English, it means a written note. Because of this, sometimes you have some people saying in Portuguese “Tenho um apontamento com o meu contabilista.” (I’ve a written note with my accountant”)

Intestinal problems or just a cold?

This is probably the one that leads to the most hilarious results. The word “constipação” in Portuguese means a cold, whereas in English refers to a condition that makes someone to be unable to empty their bowels as often as they should. So, in this case it is quite frequent to hear a person saying something like “I didn’t go to work today because I’m very constipated”. The sentence is correct; however, you are not talking about the same thing and the other person will definitely get the wrong message.

Although they are hilarious, these situations can also be quite confusing and lead to all sorts of problems. Therefore, it is very important to be aware of these words and make sure we use them properly in both languages.