Fashion false friends

Posted by on May 27, 2010

Our final Russian English guest post this month is from Uliana Urubzhilova. Uliana has been living in the US for three months. She’s studying at the International Academy of Design and Technology (IADT) in Florida, majoring in Fashion Merchandising. She graduated from a university in Russia last summer and has an equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics.

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When I started my education at IADT, I realized that I lacked specific words and terms to do with the fashion industry. So I started to pick up new words all the time. Besides, I noticed that there were many English words which sound like Russian but whose meanings are different. Here’s one example:

velvet Russian – velveteen English
velvet English – barkha Russian

Such words, which are also called false friends, confuse me sometimes. But when in doubt, I always check in a dictionary. The most difficult assignment for me is to write up research in English. It takes a lot of time to find the right words, since there are a lot of examples of such false friends. Another problem has arisen recently: I learn a new English word, I understand its meaning, but I don’t know its Russian equivalent. It happens with some names of fabrics and terms. Here only a specialist dictionary can help.

And finally I would like to tell a story which happened to me a week ago. I was told to buy a sewing foot. I asked my fellow student whether I had to buy a pedal for a sewing machine or something like that. But the sewing presser foot appeared to be a part of a sewing machine which exerted downward pressure on the fabric as it was fed under the needle. Its Russian meaning points on its small size, which is achieved by the means of a suffix:

lapa Russian – foot English
lapka Russian – small foot English

So, such interesting language phenomena always draw my attention from practical and theoretical points of view.

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