Unfortunately there are many false friend pairs in English and Italian, but don't worry!
I particularly enjoy writing blog posts on this topic since I want to alert my Italian readers to the potential embarrassment which false friend combinations may cause.
One of my students recently confused the Italian word PILOTA when talking to me about Lewis Hamilton and Formula One races. (It is true that the Italian word 'pilota' is almost identical to the English word 'pilot'). Please be careful! The meaning is not necessarily the same. (I loro significati non sono sempre intercambiali).
Let us now study what ‘pilota’ means in Italian and then see how it is expressed in English.
Pilota: una persona che guida un'automobile veloce (pilota di Formula 1) o un aereo.
The English translations of the Italian word 'PILOTA' are as follows:
Pilot: a person who operates or is licensed to operate an aircraft in flight.
The big difference is when talking about Formula One.
Please note that the Italian expression ‘pilota di Formula 1’ is expressed as ‘Formula One racing driver’ in English. Therefore Lewis Hamilton is the British Formula One racing driver. He is NOT a 'pilot'. He doesn't fly aeroplanes for Alitalia or Ryanair!!! Pilots fly aeroplanes.
I falsi amici sono pericolosi, lo sappiamo tutti.
I therefore recommend that Italians carefully study these ‘falsi amici’ combinations so as to minimize the risk of making mistakes when speaking English.
Check out my blog and #followme for future updates on the fascinating topic of False Friends - Falsi Amici.
My blog posts focus on the particular difficulties that Italians experience when studying English.
Christopher White (mother-tongue English teacher with 28 years' teaching experience) Jesi, (AN) Italy.