Cross-language oddities

One of the more interesting points about different languages is that sometimes words in one language mean something completely different in a different language.
In languages from the same family the meanings are naturally often just variations since the languages have the same origin but cross-family comparisons can be very entertaining although (you guessed it) they are just plain random.
Long time ago I came across the Japanese verb 塗る(nuru) which means to apply paint, to apply a ointment etc. All Japanese verbs have a -te form, in this case the pronounciation is “nutte” which in German means “whore, prostitute”.
Another example that unfortunately doesn’t work both ways is 脚気 (kakke) which translates to Beriberi, a sickness caused by vitamin deficiency. In German however, this means “shit”. Both things less than wonderful…

One more oddity is Schinken (in German “ham”). Those who know Japanese already know where this is heading… 真剣 (pronounced “shinken”). Meaning “serious, earnest”. Without doubt, ham is one of the most serious pieces of meat there is…

Do you know any other examples? Let me know!


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