False friends alert #1: epic vs epicki

  • False friends alert #1: epic vs epicki

    False friends alert #1: epic vs epicki

    False friends are words in two languages that look or sound similar but differ in meaning.

    ‘Epic’ and ‘epicki’ are a great example of such a pair because they look almost the same and have similar meanings in English and Polish, but you can use English ‘epic’ in more situations.

    English ‘epic’ like Polish ‘epicki’ refers to literature and one of its genres (‘the epics of Homer’) or movies (‘a big Hollywood epic’). However, it also has the second meaning that Polish ‘epicki’ does not have, mainly it can also mean something ambitious, heroic, great or extraordinary: Listen to this song. It’s so epic.

    There would not be a problem with these two words if not for the fact that ‘epic’ started to infiltrate everyday speech in Poland. The reason why this is happening is that people know English, they read in English or they learn it and think they can use English words in the same way in their native language. Sometimes it leads to a phenomenon called neo-semantization like in the case of ‘epicki’ when it is used by Polish speakers in a wrong context. The following examples show proper use of ‘epic’ for English speakers and the Polish word ‘epicki’ should not be used in this context.

    But all along, they believed they would ultimately prevail—and not just win the war, but also do something epic that would change the course of history for all time. (source: sentence.yourdictionary.com)

    The bridge was an epic achievement. (source: www.merriam-webster.com)

    The company is engaged in an epic struggle for survival. (source: www.merriam-webster.com)

    Other examples courtesy of www.oxforddictionaries.com, www.urbandictionary.com

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    Hanna Gembus

    Hanna Gembus is a professional Polish English and Polish German translator and communication specialist based in the United Kingdom providing translation, content, interpreting and market research services to small, medium-sized and large companies and organisations. She specialises in business, marketing and e-commerce, using linguistic and cultural knowledge to help both start-ups and established companies improve their presence on the market and increase sales. http://langoa.eu

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