ƒƒ FALSE FRIEND
Our next false friend looks at the word personal and its meaning in both languages. In terms of spelling is the word the same in both languages. However, the difference in meaning is something to pay attention to.
When we use the word personal in German, it means the same as Mitarbeiter and it describes the people working in a company or institution. When translated into English, we have the word personnel. It’s basically the same when using the root word person– a person who works for the company. Yet, the suffix ending is with –nel. The word staff is the synonym for this word.
The English word personal functions as an adjective, both alone as well as in combination with a noun. When we use the word alone, then it has to do with the private aspect- something that does not need to be made public unless it is deemed necessary. That means if person A has something personal with person B, then they have a problem that they need to first resolve between themselves before having another person intervene. And while private means the same as the German privat, the German equivalent for personal alone in this case is persönlich. And even when we have the word personal problem, when translated into German, it would be the same: persönliches Problem.
The tricky part is when we combine personal with another noun, for some of the word combinations are exactly the same in both languages. The reason: some of the words from English can be used in the German language as well. But the number is fewer than what can be found in German, using either the words persönlich, privat, or something similar. You can find the examples in the first task below:
Activity 1. Determine if this word combination is possible (P) or impossible (I) in German. If I, translate the term into German.
- Personal Computer _________________________________
- Personal belongings _________________________________
- Personal assistant __________________________________
- Personal identification number ___________________________
- Personal data __________________________________
- Personal letter __________________________________
- Personal injury ___________________________________
- Personal debt ___________________________________
Activity 2. Translate the following German words into English. Hint: Most of these German words do not follow the persönlich or privat rule but when translated into English, they all start with personal.
- Tagebuch ______________________
- Distanzzone ______________________
- Kontaktanzeige ___________________
- Privatvermögen ___________________
- Terminplaner ____________________
Activity 3. Do the same thing but from English into German.
- Personal growth ___________________________
- Personal allowance ___________________________
- Personal quality ___________________________
- Personal comment ___________________________
- Personal appearance __________________________
Activity 4. Determine whether these translations are true friends or false friends. If false, correct them.
- Personal chemistry <-> persönliche Chemie
- Something personal <-> etw. Persönliches
- Personal opinion <-> persönliche Meinung
- Personal expereince <-> persönliche Erfahrung
- Personal hygiene <-> persönliche Hygiene