Today, let’s talk about one of the biggest Spanish-English false friends that goes undetected (even by the most veteran English teachers), mainly because it doesn’t sound particularly odd in some contexts – ‘to be educated’.
So what does it mean to be (un)educated and ser (mal)educado?
No me abrió la puerta. ¡Qué maleducado!
He didn’t open the door for me. How rude of him!
Es tan culta. Tiene un máster de Harvard y lee tantos libros…
She’s so well-educated and cultured. She’s got a master’s from Harvard and reads so much…
In Spanish, la educación has to do with one’s upbringing at home (more so than schooling); that is, one’s manners or the lack thereof. If one is polite and well-mannered, he or she is considered educado/a, and if on the contrary, maleducado/a (rude).
Whereas in English, if one has a degree from Harvard or Oxford, goes to the art museum often and/or has a strong command of vocabulary, he or she is considered educated (cultured). However, the same people can be rude and be maleducados.
well-mannered, polite = educado
ill-mannered, impolite = maleducado
well-educated = culto, preparado, formado
uneducated = inculto, ignorante
Did you notice the difference?
If you have other undetected false friends (in any language), leave us a comment!