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Being “Self-confident” or “self-conscious” makes a huge difference!

23 Feb 2016
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by Liz Naithani
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(comments: 0)
Self-confident woman
In the following, I will introduce a false friend that is particularly common among German-speakers. This false friend is so persistent and widespread that I have even experienced (German-speaking) English professors fall for it.

Especially in speaking, the German word “selbstsicher” is often wrongly translated as “self-conscious”. However, “self-conscious” generally means the exact opposite of “selbstsicher”!

self-conscious = inhibited, insecure, bashful (in academia, particularly in sociology and philosophy, it can also mean “aware of oneself as an individual“)

Example: “Because of my poor German skills I feel self-conscious about giving presentations in German”.

The correct English translation for “selbstsicher” is “self-confident” or “confident”. Example: “I think he'd be great in PR, he’s tactful, eloquent and self-confident”.


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