False Friends

False friends, or to give them their proper name, false cognates, are words which sound or look similar in two different languages, but actually mean very different things. These false friends can cause harmless misunderstandings and sometimes they can be really funny.

Gil the Travelling Gecko almost always seems to run into these words. Occasionally this means that he doesn’t understand as much as he thought that he did. These ‘errors’ can be great ways to have some fun when learning a new language and will often make you laugh. Best of all, you will probably remember them!

In the Gil book series we try to use these false friends in each story where Gil is in a country where English isn’t the first language. Sometimes we use common ‘street’ terms to highlight how different people speak in other English speaking countries


Below are some examples of False Friends and alternate meanings


False friends oui





When visiting France you will hear a lot of people saying wee. They do not need to go to the toilet they mean ‘yes’. Oui in French just sounds like wee!








.Gil The Travelling Gecko


False Friends - Boogers




We all know that boogers live in your nose, but in parts of Australia, young boogie boarders are also called boogers!








Gil The Travelling Gecko



False Friends


In South Africa a pick-up truck is called a ‘Bakkie’. You will often see groups of people riding in the back of these bakkies, even though it can be dangerous.





Gil The Travelling Gecko


Bunny chow - False Friends


One of the tastiest foods in south Africa is known as ‘Bunny Chow’.

It may not sound very pleasant but it is. Bunny Chow is a loaf of bead filled with curry. Yum!





Gil The Travelling Gecko


Fantasia in Portugese

The word ‘fantasia’ in Portuguese doesn’t mean a fantasy, it means a costume.

Make sure that you do not give any secrets away by misunderstanding what someone has asked you.



Gil The Travelling Gecko



More examples of false friends will be added in the near future. If you can think of some, get n contact and let is know. We are always looking for new ideas for new stories.