False friends: Society (company and firm)

Society è un mezzo false friend in inglese, poiché significa sì società (intesa come aggregazione di persone o associazione) ma non vuol dire azienda. Azienda si dice company o firm, altri due false friends… LANGUAGE LEVEL B2 (UPPER INTEREMDIATE)

Mark Worden (Standard British accent)

The word society can be confusing for Italians in English. It has the same meaning in terms of the community, the population, we talk about society, high society, society in general, but when the word becomes complicated is when we enter the world of business. For example, in Italian a società is a business activity, but we don’t say society in English, we say either company or firm (1). However, we do use the word society, but it means an associazione: for example, the Royal Society, or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or to Children. As I said, the word for a società, we either say company or firm, and firm itself is, perhaps for Italians, a false friend because it doesn’t mean a firma, it means società, and a firma in English is a signature or an autograph. And finally, company, yes, it has… OK, it’s used to mean a business activity, but it’s also used to mean compagnia. For example, I very much enjoyed the company of the people I met on holiday last year. So those are three complicated words: society, company and firm.


1 we say either company or firm: noi diciamo comany oppure firm


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