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Portuguese-English False Cognates

There are certain terms that authors should be particularly aware of when translating from Portuguese to English.

Also available in: português

Another article features a set of false friends (or false cognates) to watch out for when translating from Spanish to English. False cognates are terms that look similar but have very different meanings. Authors translating their work need to be careful with such terms; it is easy to substitute a similar-sounding word instead of the word that provides the correct meaning. Because of the popularity of that post, here are similar false cognates in Portuguese and English. As before, if you have questions or would like to add your own favorite, please write to us at [email protected].

  • Advertir = to warn or advise (not to advertise)
  • Aluno = student (not alumnus)
  • Amassar = to crush (not to amass)
  • Antecipar = to move forward (not to anticipate)
  • Aparelho = equipment or apparatus (not apparel)
  • Apreciação = judgment (not appreciation)
  • Atual = current (not actual)
  • Casualidade = chance or coincidence (not casualty)
  • Construir = to build (not to construe)
  • Data = date (not data)
  • Eventualmente = occasionally (not eventually)
  • Êxito = success (not exit)
  • Jornal = newspaper (not journal)
  • Livraria = bookstore (not library)
  • Pasta = folder or briefcase (not pasta)
  • Pretender = to intend (not to pretend)
  • Realizar = to complete (not to realize)
  • Recipiente = container (not recipient)
  • Recordar = to remember (not to record)
  • Resumir = to summarize (not to resume)
  • Sensível = sensitive (not sensible)
  • Taxa = rate or fee (not tax)

Today’s editing tip was written in collaboration with AJE’s Academic Translation Advisors.

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