Re: Musings on Language #2
Greek speakers are utterly confounded by English words of Greek origin, whose meaning in English is radically different than their modern Greek counterparts.
For example, a lot of people want to say "sanctuary" and they say "asylum" instead, because the Greek word for sanctuary is άσυλο - asylum.
Or, the word apology in Greek (απολογία) is a special legal term for a defendant's statement/plea before the court. So if an Englishman says "the defendant apologized", he means that the defendant asked for forgiveness. But if a Greek says that, there's a good chance he got his terms mixed up, and simply means that the defendant gave his statement (which may very well be "I'm not apologizing, I'm innocent!").
There's at least a dozen of such words which confuse people all the time, and many more that are less common.
On the other hand, the gender thing doesn't happen that often, at least for those who speak English passably.