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False Friends

The phenomenon of faux amis or 'false friends' existing between language pairs is well-known and understandable. The phenomenon should be understood in its wider sense: false cognates (word pairs sharing historical links but divergent in meaning), homonymy (same word but different meaning), amongst others. In a Salesian (Don Bosco) context where Italian has been the dominant lexifier for the discourse, we may also expect to find pseudo-Italianisms. economer would be a classic example. In many instances we have to look at the context to determine the best translation; a rule of thumb would be to look as far as 5 words to the left and 5 to the right of any term one has doubts about.

ItalianFalse friendPreferred equivalent(s)
ambienteenvironmentcan be such, certainly, but in the case of 'ambiente educativo', for example, given the broader extension of the Italian 'educativo' cf (Educator), environment is only one possibility; climate, spirit (i.e. a way of being and acting)
cartacardCould be 'card', but might also be something along the lines of 'charter'
coerenzacoherenceUsually it means 'consistency' e.g. of viewpoint, Where texture is involved the Italian would say 'consistenza'. Of course 'coerenza' can also mean 'coherence'.
collaboratorecollaboratorcould be 'collaborator' but might also be 'helper', 'co-worker', 'partner'
collegiocollegeboarding school (though it could be college)
colloquiocolloquiumfriendly talk, chat
coloniacolonycamp (e.g. school camp or summer camp
compagnocompanionfriend (though it could be companion)
condizioneconditioncould be 'condition' but often 'situation', 'circumstance'
dociledocilewell-behaved, obedient
economoeconomerwe are stuck with 'Economer General' and 'Provincial Economer', but other cases at local level might employ 'bursar', 'administrator', 'treasurer'...
emarginatiemarginatedmarginalised, abandoned
esercizi spiritualispiritual exercisesretreat or 'spiritual retreat'
fisionomiaphysionomyspecial character, shape
formazioneformationMay well be 'formation' but can also in context be simply 'education'
fragilitÓfragilityfrailty, especially in fragilitÓ vocazionale
genialegenialclever, gifted, smart
globaleglobalmay mean 'global' but more likely 'overall'
incaricatoincharge, in-charge, inChargeperson in charge
integraleintegralrounded, all-round, holistic, complete...
interessare(to) interest, be interested inget involved, be concerned with - the Italian term has a sense of necessity, obligation about it
irrinunciabileunrenounceable'inalienable', or in context, 'essential'
itinerarioitinerarycurriculum, 'progress made'
lettoratolectorateministry of reader
liminalitÓliminalityfrontier situation
linguaggiolanguagecould often be 'language' but might also be 'expression', even 'vocabulary'
missionario/amissionaryoften it should be rendered simply as mission (adj)
MonsignoreMonsignorIt could be 'Monsignor' but in English this person is usually not-quite-a-bishop! Better to say 'Bishop X' or 'Archbishop Y'
operativooperativecould be 'operative' but more likely 'practical', 'working...'
orfanoorphanIn English an 'orphan' has usually lost both parents. In Italian one can be 'orphaned' of one parent. This means we may need to spell it out along the lines of 'lost a father/mother' rather than use the term 'orphan'.
organicoorganicholistic, systematic, complete...
organismiorganismsgroups, bodies, entities...
passivitÓpassivityCareful! It might mean 'liabilities' in accounting
pastoralepastoralMostly it refers to 'ministry' in our context
patrimoniopatrimonyit could be 'patrimony' but it might also be 'heritage', 'legacy'
pedagogiapedagogyOften can be rendered simply by 'education'
pietÓpietyit could be 'piety' but it might also be 'devotion'
presbiteriopresbyterysanctuary, presbyterium
presidenzapresidencyexecutive group, committee, though 'presidency' seems to apply in the European Union
procuraprocure (n.)(Mission) (and) (Development) Office; in other words combinations of these
professionaleprofessionalit could be 'professional' but might also mean 'technical' as in the case of some scuole professionali
profeticopropheticit could be 'prophetic' but it might simply mean 'inspired'
progettoprojectplan or project, depends essentially on context
promozionepromotionit could be 'promotion' but it might also be 'fostering', 'development' as in 'human development' or 'work' or 'ministry' in the case of promozione vocazionale
protocolloprotocolfile number, correspondence register
radiografiaradiography, X-Rayoverview
regolamentoregulation'regulations' in the plural, more likely, especially if with capital 'R'
Responsabile maggioreResponsible Major, Major ResponsibleModerator General
ricoveratirecoveredIt means people given shelter, or taken to hospital or...
rilanciarerelaunchit could be 'relaunch' but might also be 'reinvigorate'
rettoratoRectorateterm of office of Rector Major
santuariosanctuaryshrine or sanctuary - so long as it's the whole building and not just where the altar is!
scusa/eexcuseit could express the idea of an excuse or justification, but might also be properly 'apology' or 'apologies'
sessenniosessenniumsix year period
sinergiasynergyit might be synergy, but it might also be simply 'teamwork'
territorioterritoryit might be territory but almost always, in a Salesian context, it is better glossed as 'local area'
urnaurncasket, otherwise it's either a Grecian objet d'art or to keep ashes in!
vicariovicarvice-rector, vice-provincial (though it could be vicar)
volontariatovoluntariate'volunteer movement' , 'volunteer group' preferred

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