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False Friends in Learner Corpora

A corpus-based study of English false friends in the written and spoken production of Spanish learners


M Luisa Roca-Varela

This book is conceived as a contribution to the general understanding of learner language. It presents an innovative approach to the study of English false friends. False friends are a current issue for those learning and working with languages since these lexical items may spring up in different contexts of our everyday life. The book identifies false friends in real samples of learner English, reflects on the difficulty of these words and illustrates the specific problems which should be addressed in the EFL classroom. The ultimate purpose of this book is to cast new light on both the skillful and awkward use of false friends in learner English.
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2. False Friends: Terms, Definitions and Classifications


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2.   False Friends: Terms, Definitions and Classifications

2.1   Terminological Review of the Term “False Friends”

There is no complete agreement as to when the first and oldest work about false friends appeared. Some authors, such as Chamizo Domínguez (2008) maintain that the interest in this phenomenon already started in the 17th century with a focus on Swedish and Polish false friends with the Latin title Nomina Polonica convenientia cum Sveticis partim eundem partim diversum significantia Sensum Ordine Alphabetico collecta atque disposita which translates into English as An Alphabetically Provided Collection of Polish Nouns, which Partially Coincide with and Partially Diverge from Swedish Nouns (Chamizo Domínguez, 2008:1). Others, such as Pérez-Velasco (2004) suggest that the first book of false friends has a German title, Französischer Antibarbarus, and dates back to the end of the 19th century. Be that as it may, it is no use denying that the issue of false friends started to be popular at the end of the second decade of the 20th century with Koessler’s and Derocquigny’s work, Les Faux Amis ou les Trahisons du Vocabulaire Anglais (False Friends or the Treacherous Pitfalls of the English Vocabulary), published in 1928. With this work, the metaphorical phrase faux amis comes into being and starts to be introduced in many different languages (e.g. falsos amigos, in Spanish and Portuguese; falsi amici, in Italian; Falsche Freunde, in German, etc). The phrase used in English is false friends....

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