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Friday, 28 August 2015
Representing New Things

Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything,
David Bellos, Penguin, 2011, page 179-180

Bellos claims that there are three ways to represent a new thing in a receiving language:

by a foreignism (importing a foreign or source language word), a calque (a French loanword meaning to trace or copy), or semantic expansion (giving additional meaning to an existing word). Each of them changes the target language by one item, with possible repercussions over time on the use and form of other words.

But cultural substitition makes to change to the target language, simply borrowing an already existing target language word where the source concept doesn't exust in the target context. Bellos supplies some examples:

'White as snow' in the Bible text may become 'white as a cockatoo's feathers' in languages spoken in areas where snow has never been seen, or 'white as a cotton boll' in some languages of South America.

Posted By Jonathan, 8:00am Comment Comments: 0