False friends are words that look or sound the same in different languages but have different meanings. Unlike false cognates, which are completely unrelated, false friends may have a shared origin. For example, gift has a far more sinister German meaning—poison—than it does in English, though both languages derive the word from the same Germanic root. How might a new Spanish speaker worsen her situation by mistakenly using the word embarazada to indicate that she is embarrassed?
Back in the day
The 1867 discovery of gold in Botswana excited interest from several European powers. In 1885, the British created the Bechuanaland Protectorate there as a defense against the Boers. Although this spawned no nationalist movement, Britain granted it internal self-government in 1965 and full independence as Botswana the next year. Seretse Khama became its first president. Botswana's economy has developed rapidly since independence. Why is a member of the main tribe of Botswana called a Motswana?
Born on a day like today
Wiesel is a Romanian-American Jewish author, lecturer, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. As a teen, he was imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps—Auschwitz and later Buchenwald—where his family perished. After the war, he became a journalist and later settled in the US. His extensive works, including his most famous novel, Night, focus on keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. Yet, for years after the war, Wiesel refused to write about his experiences. What changed his mind?