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Lesson Transcript


Alisha: What are some Hindi-English false friends?
Shakti: And what are some words that are often used incorrectly?
Alisha: At HindiPod101.com, we hear these questions often. In the following dialogue, Aditi Ahuja is talking to her subordinate, Mark Lee. She says,
"You need to ‘make’ this."
अदिति: आपको यह बनाना होगा। (aapako yah baNaaNaa hogaa.)
अदिति: आपको यह बनाना होगा। (aapako yah baNaaNaa hogaa.)
Mark Lee: क्या बात कर रही हो? (kyaa baaT kar rahii ho?)
Alisha: Once more with the English translation.
अदिति: आपको यह बनाना होगा। (aapako yah baNaaNaa hogaa.)
Alisha: "You need to ‘make’ this."
Mark Lee: क्या बात कर रही हो? (kyaa baaT kar rahii ho?)
Alisha: "What are you talking about?"

Lesson focus

Alisha: In this lesson, we will talk about ‘false friends’. But don’t worry—we won’t give you a lecture on who you should or shouldn’t hang out with! The term ‘false friends’ refers to words that exist in two languages that may look or sound alike, but which do not have the same meaning. In some cases, the two words may even have opposite meanings! 'False friends' are also known as ‘false cognates’, where cognates means ‘words of the same origin’.
You will hear that some of the words we're going to discuss sound identical to English in pronunciation. However, Venus will repeat them anyway for our non-English students to copy. Let's get going! Our first word is:
Shakti: [NORMAL] मगर (magar) [SLOWLY] मगर (magar).
Alisha: It sounds like ‘mugger’, doesn't it? In Hindi, it means “but”. It is also the short form of the Hindi word for “crocodile”.
Shakti: [NORMAL] मगरमच्छ (magaramacch). [SLOWLY] मगरमच्छ (magaramacch).
Alisha: When you shorten this word, you have
Shakti: [NORMAL] मगर (magar).
Alisha: So, what is the Hindi word for ‘mugger’, then?
Shakti: [NORMAL] लुटेरा (Luteraa) [SLOWLY] लुटेरा (Luteraa).
The next false friend in Hindi is:
Shakti: [NORMAL] आम (aam) [SLOWLY] आम (aam).
Alisha: Sounds like ‘arm’, doesn’t it? But this Hindi word doesn’t refer to a body part. In fact, it means ‘mango’, which is a fruit!
Alisha: Our next example of a false cognate is:
Shakti: [NORMAL] फूल (phooL) [SLOWLY] फूल (phooL).
Alisha: This means 'flower', not ‘a foolish person’. So, ladies, next time a Hindi-speaker calls you a
Shakti: फूल (phooL),
Alisha: don’t be upset, as they are probably paying you a compliment! In Hindi, a 'fool' is called:
Shakti: [NORMAL] बुद्धू (buDDHuu) [SLOWLY] बुद्धू (buDDHuu).
Alisha: Listen carefully to this word for ‘work’:
Shakti: [NORMAL] काम (kaam) [SLOWLY] काम (kaam).
Alisha: It is very similar to 'calm' in English, right? But, this means ‘work’. Of course, not many of us would associate work with this peaceful emotion! The Hindi word for 'calm' is:
Shakti: [NORMAL] शांत (saaNT) [SLOWLY] शांत (saaNT).
Alisha: Another example is the word ‘bath’, which in English means, 'to wash the body by immersing it in water'. In Hindi, there is a word that sounds very similar:
Shakti: [NORMAL] बात (baaT) [SLOWLY] बात (baaT).
Alisha: This means ‘talk’—which you can do in a bath, of course. But don’t get confused if someone asks you this:
Shakti: कया आप बात करना चाहते हैं? (kya aap baaT karaNa caahate hain?)
Alisha: It means you’re being invited to chat, not to share a bath!
[Recall 1]
Alisha: Let’s take a closer look at the dialogue. Remember, you can repeat after Venus! First, Aditi Ahuja says, “You need to make this.”
Venus as Aditi Ahuja: [NORMAL] आपको यह बनाना होगा। (aapako yah baNaaNaa hogaa.) [SLOWLY] आपको यह बनाना होगा। (aapako yah baNaaNaa hogaa.)
Alisha: To the English ear, that sounds like, “You need to banana this.” No wonder Mark Lee was confused! Let's listen to the word:
Shakti: [NORMAL] बनाना (baNaaNaa) [SLOWLY] बनाना (baNaaNaa).
Alisha: This means ‘to make’, but yes—it sounds like the English name for the long, yellow fruit. Again, don’t get confused by this false friend! The Hindi word for ‘banana’, the fruit, is:
Shakti: [NORMAL] केला (keLaa) [SLOWLY] केला (keLaa).
[Recall 2]
Alisha: And do you remember how Mark Lee says, "What are you talking about?"
Mark Lee: [NORMAL] क्या बात कर रही हो? (kyaa baaT kar rahii ho?)
[SLOWLY] क्या बात कर रही हो? (kyaa baaT kar rahii ho?)
Alisha: Did you hear that word?
Shakti: बात (baaT).
Alisha: It means “talk” and not “bath”! This time it made sense, didn't it? I hope you are managing the Hindi pronunciation. Just keep practicing—you’ll get it!
Alisha: We are not done yet! Let’s continue and take a look at a few more Hindi words, that sound very similar to English words, but have a completely different meaning. Let’s listen to this sentence, for example.
Shakti: [NORMAL] बहुत कम है। (bahuT kam hai.)
[SLOWLY] बहुत कम है। (bahuT kam hai.)
Alisha: You may think that the person is asking you to come with him/her. But that’s not it! This Hindi word
Shakti: कम (kam).
Alisha: means “less”. The sentence means “it is very less”. Here is another example.
Shakti: कैसी बू आ रही है? (kaiSii buu aa rahii hai?)
Alisha: Your first thought is that maybe someone is trying to scare you away by saying “Boo!”. But that’s not the case here. The Hindi word
Shakti: बू (buu)
Alisha: actually refers to a “foul odor” or a “bad smell”. The sentence means “What kind of a smell is that?”
Alisha: In this lesson, we learned that ‘false friends’ are words in two languages that sound the same, but, in fact, have different meanings. We covered a few examples of Hindi-English false friends and how to use them correctly too.


Alisha: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Shakti: फिर मिलेंगे! (phir miLenge!)
Shakti: अलविदा (aLviDaa)
Alisha: See you soon!

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