Map, card, menu, ticket = Karte

The German word ‘Karte’ is used with many different meanings. This fact often leads to confusion among German native speakers, because they use the potential false friend ‘card’ when they speak English. Here are two good examples:

Karte (or Speisekarte) [False friend]
This is a true classic. Just last week, the waiter in a posh restaurant asked an English friend of mine

Do you need an English card?

Of course, he meant to say

Do you need an English menu?

Interestingly, the English word ‘menu’ is also a false friend, which is often used by German native speakers when referring to a set menu or set meal (or, in fast-food lingo, a meal deal).

Karte (or Landkarte) [False friend]
Here the correct translation is map.

On the other hand, there are many examples where ‘card’ is a true friend. You can send someone a card (‘Glückwunschkarte’) or a post card (‘Postkarte’). You can pay by card (‘mit Karte zahlen’) and have your credit card (‘Kreditkarte’) shredded. And of course you can talk about card games, memory cards, and business cards (or visiting cards, similar to ‘Visitenkarten’).

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