Faux amis means "false friends" in French. That's what I hope people don't conclude about me when I exercise poor internet ettiquette! Heh. Faux amis also means "words in different languages that sound like they should have the same meaning, but don't." Second-language learners find faux amis everywhere. They help us stay awake during language classes.
Hebrew and Engish have a surprisingly long chain of faux amis threaded through the pronouns. An American rabbi wrote a cutesy Abbott-and-Costello tribute about it:
Abbott: הוא is he.Until someone pointed those out to me, I never noticed them, and I still don't think they sound that much alike. Anyway, there are a lot of crazier faux amis for advanced Hebrew-learners to giggle about in Ulpan. Ahem:
Costello: Who is he?
- Nylons (ניילטנים) are the plastic bags you get from the grocery store.
- Purée (פירה) is mashed potatoes.
- Bagel (בייגלה) means bagel, but it also means pretzel.
- Philadelphia (פילדלפיה) means Philadelphia, but it's also the generic name for cream cheese.
- A trapeze (טרפז) is a trapezoid.
- An American exam (מבחן אמריקני) is a multiple-choice test.
- A close (קלוז) is a fill-in-the-blank exercise.
- Your lose (לו"ז) is your schedule.
- A sniff (סניף) is an outlet of a business.
- A filipina (פיליפינה) may be someone from the Phillipines, or she might just be anyone whose job it is to take care of old people. [!עיין ערך גיזאנות]
- Sponge (ספונג'ה) is the name of the job where you clean other people's houses.
- Mommy (מאמי) and boobie (בובי) are terms of endearment.
- The vestigal structure attached to the end of your colon is called your appendicitis (אפנדציטיס). If it gets infected, you have appendetzit (אפנדציט).
- Sylvester (סילבסטר) is the name of the holiday you celebrate on December 31st. ("New Year's Eve" is the name of the holiday we'll celebrate on September 29th.)
- Rashomon (רשומון) is the name of an important Japanese movie, but it's also the Hebrew word for "blog."