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New Word: “Calque”

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is my new word, I found it while writing a previous blog. “Calque or loan translation is the borrowing of a phrase from a foreign language by the literal translation of the original word or phrase. The new word or phrase may retain the original meaning or evolve to have a different meaning.” “‘Loan translation’ is itself a calque of German Lehnübersetzung.Deus Ex Machina is and example of calque, it come from the Greek “apo mechanēs theos“.

An English example I took from is “flea market” which calques the French “marché aux puces“, although I wonder which the Dutch “vlooienmarkt” calques.

The Wikipedia user Ravenswood made a good comment on the Talk page:

Some […] seem to be phrases that would be the same in another language with or without borrowing (such as “liver sausage” — it’s a sausage made out of liver, what else would you call it?)

I found another uncited definition

calque, n. a loan translation, esp. one resulting from bilingual interference in which the internal structure of a borrowed word or phrase is maintained but its morphemes are replaced by those of the native language1

Another example not given in the Wikipedia entry could be the French ‘supermarché’, which calques English ‘supermarket’. (Ironic as ‘market’ is said to come from ‘marché’.) However the French ‘Médecins sans Frontière‘ (an NGO) is not calqued by the English ‘Doctors without Borders‘ and the Dutch ‘Artsen zonder Grenzen‘, as it is not a common phrase, it’s the proper name of an organization.

You can find a list of calques on . Can you think of any more?

Originally posted here.

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

June 30, 2010 at 9:42 am

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