Gate or gate?

“Gate” is one of those words that linguists call “false friends”. The word looks alike in two different languages but does not have the same meaning. So a movable barrier in a fence in English is a street in Norwegian (pronounced as GAH-teh). 

I’m bilingual, equally comfortable with my mother tongue English, and with Norwegian. I learned Norwegian at age 8 so I speak it without an accent. Being bilingual does not mean translating stuff on the fly. Both languages exist with their respective glossaries, grammar, idioms and sentence structure.

On occasion my brain will glitch and try to speak Norwegian using English sentence structures, which leads to some awkward phrasing and some fumbling around as I try to correct myself. The reverse only happens if I’m trying to translate Norwegian into English on the fly. Somewhat more frequently, my brain will toss in an English word while I’m speaking Norwegian or vice-versa.

I have yet to refer to a street as a gate, or a gate as a port, though—perhaps because these are basic and common words. A metal gate is called “port” in Norwegian, like in portal, while a wooden gate is often called “grind” (pronounced with a short i; from Old Norse).
Some words are may not be interchangeable now but could have been at one time. A gate is a hole or gap for passage. The word comes from the proto-German “gatan” and the narrow passageway has evolved into the thing allowing you to go through a fence or wall in English-speaking countries, or the thing that allows you to go through a city in Scandinavia and Germany.
The Daily Prompt: Gate

By Keera Ann Fox

I am a bi-lingual American who has lived most of my life in Norway.
Jeg er en tospråklig amerikaner som har bodd mesteparten av mitt liv i Norge.

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