Tag Archives: folk etymology

The Truth About False Friends

350px-DutchEnglishfalsefriendWhile recently reading Men’s Journal (or Men’s Health, I can never keep them straight), I came across an article about taking on a bird as a pet. This seems less like something the readers of MJ (or MH) would actually want and more like something that got pitched and then written because something else fell through. Regardless. I started contemplating what life with a bird would be like.

This led to some Googling and craigslist searching. (Warning: Don’t search on craigslist for pets because your heart will break.) And that led me to investigating parakeets, which eventually led me to the discovery of the concept of “false friends.”

False friends are a little bit like folk etymology, except this time it’s word in two different languages that look or sound similar and mean very different things. Parakeet means parakeet in English, but peroquet means parrot in French. The best example is probably the one in the photo (the child is saying, “Mama, that one, that one, that one!”), but aren’t words fun?

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Real Talk: “Piggybacking”

Real Talk, in which I explain why we say weird things like “plugged nickel” or “cats pajamas.” Also, a place where I can send my boyfriend when he asks the meaning of weird phrases like “plugged nickel” or “cats pajamas.”

Today we discuss “piggyback,” as in “piggyback rides.” And this leads us into a discussion of “folk etymology,” and I’m SO EXCITED. Continue reading

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