False friends, those tricky words that are a translator's enemy and that can be found in almost every document we translate, also exist between English and Finnish. In this article, we take a look at them so that they won't cause you a nightmare during your next translation project.
So, what’s a false friend? Well, as many of you might know, a false friend (from the French faux ami) is a word or an expression that shares a similar written form in two languages, but which has different meanings. Therefore, false friends can be quite problematic because, when you see them, you might assume they have the same meaning as a similar word in your native language.
Sometimes, even fluent users of a language can confuse them; even professional translators can be misled by a false friend. That’s why, as a translator, it’s crucial to familiarise oneself with them. Remember that when it comes to translation, ‘false friends are worse than bitter enemies’, as the Scottish proverb says, and you should keep your eyes peeled, because they might be waiting for you around every corner.
It seems no language is free of false friends, and the Finnish language is no exception. During the years I’ve spent working as a translator, I’ve come across many false friends; they were in that urgent assignment, or that translation I finished off without first having my coffee, trying to confuse me. Luckily, I was able to spot them and translate them properly. Therefore, I would like to help you in your war against false friends by sharing some of them with you.
|Finnish word||It looks like…||But it means…|
|dokumentti||document||documentary / document|
|kudos||kudos||tissue (as in muscle tissue)|
|riski||risky||strong / risk|
|uni||uni||dream (sensations occurring while sleeping)|
Quite a few, huh? I’m sure there must be many others I’ve missed; so, I invite you—Finnish translators, Finnish native speakers, Finnish language lovers—to contribute to this list by leaving a comment below. Thanks!
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