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When translating, translate the meaning of sentences, not individual words




Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
George Bernard Shaw



The vocabulary of most languages contains a lot of words which are common for two or three languages. Such words appeared for a number of historic reasons, the most widely-spread of which is borrowing. Due to the mother tongue interference such common words may differ in their pronunciation and, what is more important, in meaning, causing language mistakes in their use and consequently, their misunderstanding, especially in translation. That’s why such words are most commonly referred to as false friends of an interpreter (FFI).


Given below is a list of commonly misused “false friends” of Russian speakers of English [3, 4]:

# Russian True English equivalent False English equivalent
Аккуратный neat, punctual accurate: правильный, точный
Активы и пассивы assets and liabilities actives and passives
Актуальный urgent, topical actual: фактический, реальный
Акция (ценная бумага) share, security action: an instance of doing sth
Акция (мероприятие) event action: an instance of doing sth
Артист Actor artist: painter
Декада 10 days (British: a fortnight) decade (10 years)
Интеллигентный Cultured intelligent: clever
Исторический historic – very important historical: related to history
Казахстанский Kazakh,Kazakhstan’s citizens “kazakhstani” is ambiguous and non-standard [2]
Конкретный specific concrete: бетон
Корпоративный Corporate corporative
Корпус corps [ko:] corpse: труп
(Физическое) лицо a natural person, an individual physical person
(Юридическое) лицо a legal entity juridical person
Материальное обеспечение logistical support material: существенный, значительный; телесный, физический
Облигация Bond obligation: гарантия, обязательство, долг
Перспективный prospective, promising perspective: point of view, depiction of spatial relationships
Перспективa Prospect
Принцип principle (n) principal (adj): main, basic
Политика politics – general; policy- particular
Стационарный Stationary stationery: канцтовары
Техника technology or equipment technique: a method of doing sth
Бытовая техника household appliances household techniques
Тяжёлая техника heavy equipment /machinery heavy technique
Компьютерная техника computer equipment computer technique
Реализовать sell, implement realize: понимать, осознавать
Фабрика factory, plant fabric: ткань
Физик Physicist physician: врач-терапевт
Экономика (народное хозяйство) Economy Economics: a discipline
Экономический economic (related to economy) economical: cost-effectiveэкономичный
Экспертиза expert evaluation expertise: an ability to do something expertly
Анекдот Joke anecdote: having to do with real life (anecdotal evidence)
Кремний silicon — кремний. silicone: силикон
Академия college (higher education) academy: специальные школы для взрослых (military, naval academies)


1. Internationalisms and "False interpreter friends" in the English language. Available: http://siija.ru/science/136-internationalisms-and-false-interpreter-friends-in-the-english-language-in-the-examples-from-the-texts-on-economy.html [Accessed Oct.24, 2014]

2. J.Newell, Common translation mistakes and style guidelines, 2010-2014. [Online]. Available: http://jonathan-newell.com/index.php/media-services/russian-english-translation-resources/ [Accessed Nov. 23, 2014]

3. J.Livingston, Russian mistakes in English: false friends, 2012. [Online]. Available: http://onlineteachersuk.com/en/russian-mistakes-in-english-false-friends/ [Accessed Dec.12, 2014]

4. Some examples of false friends of an interpreter. Available: http://vlad95-09.wix.com/interpretersonly#!page2/cjg9 [Accessed Oct.12, 2014]



When translating, translate the meaning of sentences, not individual words.

2. When translating, don’t do it word-for-word, don’t be literal.

3. There are no rules for translating FFI, you just have to learn them by heart. [4]

4. FFI may differ in emotional coloring, e.g. “politician” in English is neutral, but “политикан” in Russian is derogatory; “компиляция” in Russian is derogatory, but “compilation” in English is neutral.

5. FFI may differ in their denotational meaning: English “actual” is translated into Russian as “real”, “true”, not “актуальный”.

6. Be aware of the cultural differences in languages. Some languages may be more euphemistic: “disabled” in English, “инвалид” in Russian.



Activity 1. Tell the difference between:

1. historic-historical

2. technique – technology

3. economic – economical

4. intelligent – cultured

5. concrete-specific

6. politics – policy

7. actor – artist

8. physicist – physician.

Activity 2. Choose the correct variant:

1. ______ independence, especially in trade, was central to the development of the country.

a) Economic b) Economical

2. Steam engines could not create enough power to be truly ____. a) economical b) economic

3. Our country pursues the ____ of openness in international relations. a) policy b) politics

4. It was the country's only hope for the _____recovery a) economic b) economical

5. I have never been very interested in _____ before a) politics b) policy

6. The lecture will cover gender relations in paid employment, _____ and public life.

a) politics b) policy

Activity 3. Translate into English

1. Она очень аккуратный человек.

2. Необходимо провести техническую экспертизу данного проекта.

3. Что конкретно вы хотели бы узнать?

4. Перспективы на оставшуюся часть финансового года все еще остаются неопределенными.

5. Мы живем в век бурного развития науки и технологий.

6. Материально-техническое обеспечение – это наше слабое место.

7. Реализация данной программы потребует больших вложений.

8. Это будет стационарная установка.

9. Это историческое событие в истории нашей страны.

10. Эта теория недействительна.

Activity 4. Correct the mistake:

1. This fabrique was established in 1866.

2. The national economics of Kazakhstan is developing dynamically.

3. He is so sympathetic! It’s a pleasure to look at him.

4. There are built-in household techniques in these new houses.

5. The plan will be realized next year.

6. This dress looks so original!

7. I support the president’s politics.

8. Let me tell you an anecdote.

9. The book focuses on economical issues.

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