Learn Portuguese in Lisbon - header image

False friends/Falsos amigos - Part II

Hello there! Do you still remember our last post? Did you do your homework? So, let’s correct it. The previous question was: What is the meaning in Portuguese of the following words?
Novel, lamp, expert, fabric, legend, library, office, pork, eventually, policy.

English – Portuguese Portuguese – English
novel romance novela soap opera
lamp candeeiro lâmpada light bulb
expert especialista experto smart, clever
fabric tecido fábrica factory
legend lenda legenda subtitle
library biblioteca livraria bookshop
office escritório ofício trade, position, work
pork carne de porco porco pig
eventually finalmente eventualmente occasionally
policy política polícia police

As it was mentioned before, this kind of language interference doesn’t happen only with English and Portuguese languages. Some students believe that knowing Spanish before learning Portuguese is a big advantage. And that’s one of the reasons why there’s a tendency to study a little of Spanish first and then Portuguese. True! We have to admit that it helps, generally speaking. Both languages

have some similar sounds, verbs, pronouns, but the vocabulary can be a terrible headache and, of course, a serious problem.
Imagine you are in Lisbon, enjoying a delicious meal in a restaurant and the waiter asks you if you like the food. You look at him and answer A comida está esquisita, muito obrigado with a big smile on your face. Don’t be surprised if the waiter finds you crazy because what you are actually saying is that the food is not good. In fact, the word esquisita in Spanish means fantastic, excellent, delightful and in Portuguese is completely the opposite.
On the other hand, if you are, for example, in Madrid and your answer is La comida está espantosa, muchas gracias!, that means horrible, disgusting, awful. But guess what? In Portuguese means superb, delicious, exquisite. See how easily we can be misunderstood? And this is just one example among many others. Let’s see some more:

Spanish – Portuguese Portuguese – Spanish
balcón varanda balcão mostrador
billete nota (dinheiro) bilhete entrada
azar casualidade azar mala suerte
borracha bêbeda, embriagada borracha goma
oficina escritório oficina taller
polvo polvo pulpo
salsa molho salsa perejil
todavía ainda todavia sin embargo
raro estranho raro poco frequente
largo longo, comprido largo ancho

In the next post you will find a bigger list of falsos amigos (English-Portuguese and Spanish-Portuguese) in order to help you learning, understanding and avoiding these common mistakes.