I’ve been translating a training course on personal branding. Fascinating. Learn while you work. This blog is about words that sound the same but mean something completely different when spelled differently.

Actually, let’s start with branding! It used to mean taking a red-hot branding iron and burning your identifying mark into the skin of your livestock. It’s also a kind of tattooing which burns the design onto the skin instead of using needle and ink. The difference of course being that the animal didn’t ask to be branded!

Back to personal branding. One of the subjects covered was vlogging. Now here’s where my problem lies. Reading it, I know it means making video blogs. But hearing it, I think of ‘flogging’ (flagellation or whipping). Yes, with a whip! There’s an expression: it’s like flogging a dead horse, meaning you’re trying to do something that has little or no chance of success (in Dutch they pull the dead horse rather than whip it!)

Early in my time in the Netherlands, I used to see a cheese label in the supermarket, which read ‘volvet’. When I said it in my mind, it sounded like ‘velvet’ so I assumed it was lovely velvety cheese. Luckily, I never had to say it out loud. Because as any Dutch readers here will tell you, it’s ‘vol vet’, or full-fat!