False friends: Lecture

Masticare l’inglese non è facile, soprattutto quando ci sono di mezzo gli insidiosi false friends. Prendiamo ad esempio la parola “lecture”, che, contrariamente a quello che si potrebbe facilmente pensare, non significa “lettura” ma “lezione” o “conferenza”… e anche “ramanzina” (Don’t lecture me! Non farmi la predica!).

E attenzione quindi anche al false friend conference che significa “convegno” o “congresso” e non conferenza che si dice, appunto, lecture.

Mark Worden (Standard British  accent)

The word “lecture” is a false friend for Italians learning English. It does not mean “lettura,” but it means either a “lezione” or a “conferenza” in a university. It is when a teacher stands in front of a class or group of students and delivers an essay (1) or a speech on a subject that they are… that they are studying. And this word “lecture” has created another noun, which is a “lecturer,” and a lecturer is a person who teaches at a university. Essentially there are different categories in the university hierarchy (2). The basic teacher who gives lectures and classes is known as a “lecturer,” and when he or she is promoted to a higher position, the head of a department or a head… of a particular area of a department, he or she is then known as a “professor,” which is sometimes abbreviated to “prof.”

One thing which English people find quite surprising in Italy is when they might be sitting in a bar in a small, little village and somebody walks in, an elderly (3) gentleman, and the barman says “Ah, buongiorno Professore!” and you immediately imagine that this must be some great, famous, university professor, and then you’re perhaps (4) a little disappointed (5) to discover it is in fact a retired teacher (6) from the local school. So the point here is that the…in English we only really use the word “professor” to describe somebody in a high up position in a university, it’s not used in schools.


1 delivers an essay: espone un saggio
2 hierarchy: gerarchia
3 elderly: anziano
4 perhaps: forse
5 disappointed: deluso
6 retired teacher: insegnante in pensione


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