In linguistics, a calque /kælk/ or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word or root-for-root translation. Used as a verb, "to calque" means to borrow a word or phrase from another language while translating its components, so as to create a new lexeme in the target language.

"Calque" itself is a loanword from the French noun calque ("tracing; imitation; close copy"); the verb calquer means "to trace; to copy, to imitate closely"; papier calque is "tracing paper".[1] The word "loanword" is itself a calque of the German word Lehnwort, just as "loan translation" is a calque of Lehnübersetzung.[2]

Proving that a word is a calque sometimes requires more documentation than does an untranslated loanword because, in some cases, a similar phrase might have arisen in both languages independently. This is less likely to be the case when the grammar of the proposed calque is quite different from that of the borrowing language, or when the calque contains less obvious imagery.

Calquing is distinct from phono-semantic matching.[3] While calquing includes semantic translation, it does not consist of phonetic matching (i.e. retaining the approximate sound of the borrowed word through matching it with a similar-sounding pre-existing word or morpheme in the target language).


One system classifies calques into five groups:[4]

  • the phraseological calque, with idiomatic phrases being translated word-for-word. For example, "it goes without saying" calques the French "ça va sans dire".[5]
  • the syntactic calque, with syntactic functions or constructions of the source language being imitated in the target language, in violation of their meaning. For example, in Spanish the legal term for “to find guilty” is properly "declarar culpable" (“to declare guilty”). Informal usage, however, is shifting to "encontrar culpable": a syntactic mapping of "to find" without a semantic correspondence in Spanish of “find” to mean “determine as true”.[6]
  • the loan-translation, with words being translated morpheme-by-morpheme or component-by-component into another language. The two morphemes of the Swedish word tonåring calque each part of the English "teenager": femton = "fifteen"; åring = "year-old" (as in the phrase "tolv-åring" = "twelve-year-old").
  • the semantic calque, with additional meanings of the source word being transferred to the word with the same primary meaning in the target language. This is also called a "semantic loan". As described below, the "computer mouse" was named in English for its resemblance to the animal; many other languages have extended their own native word for "mouse" to include the computer mouse.
  • the morphological calque, with the inflection of a word being transferred.

This terminology is not universal. Some authors call a morphological calque a "morpheme-by-morpheme translation".[7]

Other linguists refer to the phonological calque, where the pronunciation of a word is imitated in the other language.[8] For example, the English word "radar" becomes the similar-sounding Chinese word "雷达" (pinyin "léi dá").

Loan blend

Loan blends or partial calques translate some parts of a compound, but not others.[9] For example, the name of the Irish digital television service Saorview is a partial calque of that of the UK service Freeview, translating the first half of the word from English to Irish but leaving the second half unchanged. Other examples are: "liverwurst" (< German Leberwurst), "apple strudel" (< German Apfelstrudel).


Loan translation: "flea market"

The common English phrase "flea market" is a loan translation of the French "marché aux puces" ("market with fleas").[10] Other national variations include:

Loan translation: "skyscraper"

An example of a common morpheme-by-morpheme loan-translation in a multitude of languages is that of the English word skyscraper:

Loan translation: translatio and traductio

The Latin word translatio ("a transferring") derives from trans, "across" + latus, "borne". (Latus is the past participle of ferre, "to carry".)

The Germanic languages and some Slavic languages calqued their words for "translation" from the Latin word, translatio, substituting their respective Germanic or Slavic root words for the Latin roots.

The remaining Slavic languages instead calqued their words for "translation" from an alternative Latin word, traductio, itself derived from traducere ("to lead across" or "to bring across", from trans, "across" + ducere, "to lead" or "to bring").[11]

The West Slavic languages adopted the "translatio" pattern. The East Slavic languages (except for Belarusian and Ukrainian) and the South Slavic languages adopted the "traductio" pattern.

The Romance languages, deriving directly from Latin, did not need to calque their equivalent words for "translation". Instead, they simply adapted the second of the two alternative Latin words, traductio. Thus, Aragonese: traducción; Catalan: traducció; French: traduction; Italian: traduzione; Portuguese: tradução; Romanian: traducere; and Spanish: traducción.

The English verb "to translate" similarly derives from the Latin translatio, itself derived from transferre, "to transfer": in this case, "transferred" (translatus) from one language to another.[11] Were the English verb "translate" calqued, it would be "overset", akin to the calques in other Germanic languages.

Following are the Germanic- and Slavic-language calques for "translation":[11]

Germanic languages (from "translatio")
Slavic languages

Semantic calque: mouse

The computer mouse was named in English for its resemblance to the animal. Many other languages have extended their own native word for "mouse" to include the computer mouse.

See also


  1. ^ Overzetting (noun) and overzetten (verb) in the sense of "translation" and "to translate", respectively, are considered archaic. While omzetting may still be found in early modern literary works, it has been replaced entirely in modern Dutch by vertaling.



  1. ^ The New Cassell's French Dictionary: French-English, English-French, New York, Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1962, p. 122.
  2. ^ Robb: German English Words
  3. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2003). Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-1723-X.
  4. ^ May Smith, The Influence of French on Eighteenth-century Literary Russian, pp. 29–30.
  5. ^ Foreign Words. Fowler, H. W. 1908. The King's English
  6. ^ If my Calqueulations are Correct, Paul Weston
  7. ^ Claude Gilliot, "The Authorship of the Qur'ān" in Gabriel Said Reynolds, The Qur'an in its Historical Context, p. 97
  8. ^ Specialised Dictionaries for Learners edited by Pedro Antonio Fuertes Olivera, p. 187
  9. ^ Philip Durkin, The Oxford Guide to Etymology, sec. 5.1.4
  10. ^ "flea market", The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, fourth edition, 2000 Archived 2007-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ a b c Christopher Kasparek, "The Translator's Endless Toil", The Polish Review, vol. XXVIII, no. 2, 1983, p. 83.
  12. ^ "overzetting" in Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal, IvdNT


External links


Cernavodă (Romanian pronunciation: [t͡ʃernaˈvodə], historical names: Thracian: Axiopa, Greek: Ἀξιούπολις, Bulgarian: Черна вода, Cherna voda, Turkish: Boğazköy) is a town in Constanța County, Northern Dobruja, Romania with a population of 20,514.

The town's name is derived from the Bulgarian černa voda (черна вода in Cyrillic), meaning "black water". This name is regarded by some scholars as a calque of the earlier Thracian name Axíopa, from IE *n.ksei "dark" and upā "water" (cf. Avestan axšaēna "dark" and Lithuanian ùpė "river, creek").

Character piece

Character piece is a calque of the German Charakterstück, a term, not very precisely defined, used for a broad range of 19th-century piano music based on a single idea or program. The term is less frequently applied to music for another instrument (never voice) with piano accompaniment, but very seldom for larger ensembles.

Character pieces are a staple of Romantic music, and are essential to that movement's interest in the evocation of particular moods or moments. What distinguishes character pieces is the specificity of the idea they invoke. Many character pieces are composed in ternary form, but that form is not universal in the genre. A common feature is a title expressive of the character intended, such as Stephen Heller's Voyage autour de ma chambre ("Voyage around my room"), an early example of the genre, or Bruckner's Abendklänge ("Evening harmonies"). Other character pieces have titles suggesting brevity and singularity of concept, such as Beethoven's Bagatelles, or Debussy's Préludes, or casual construction: the title Impromptu is common. Many 19th-century nocturnes and intermezzi are character pieces as well, including those of Chopin and Brahms, respectively.

Large sets of many individual character pieces, intended to be played as a single piece of music, were not uncommon; Schumann's many works of this form (including Kreisleriana and Carnaval) are the best known examples. In the late 19th and twentieth centuries, as piano music became ambitious and larger in scale, the scope of what a character piece could reference grew as well. The New Grove cites Smetana's "Festival of the Gypsy Peasants" and Sibelius's "The Oarsman" as examples of this later trend.

English words of Greek origin

The Greek language has contributed to the English vocabulary in five main ways:

vernacular borrowings, transmitted orally through Vulgar Latin directly into Old English, e.g., 'butter' (Old English butere from Latin butyrum < βούτυρον), or through French, e.g., 'ochre'.

learned borrowings from classical Greek texts, e.g., 'physics' (< Latin physica < Greek τὰ φυσικά);

a few borrowings via Arabic scientific and philosophical writing, e.g., 'alchemy' (< χημεία);

coinages in post-classical Latin or modern languages using classical Greek roots, e.g., 'telephone' (< τῆλε + φωνή) or a mixture of Greek and other roots, e.g., 'television' (< Greek τῆλε + English 'vision' < Latin visio); these are often shared among the modern European languages, including Modern Greek;

direct borrowings from Modern Greek, e.g., bouzouki.The post-classical coinages are by far the most numerous of these.

Et cetera

Et cetera (in English; ; Latin pronunciation: [ɛt ˈkeːtɛra]), abbreviated to etc., etc, &c., or &c, is a Latin expression that is used in English to mean "and other similar things", or "and so forth". Translated literally from Latin, et means 'and', while cētera means 'the rest'; thus the expression means 'and the rest (of such things)'. It is a calque of the Koine Greek καὶ τὰ ἕτερα kai ta hetera, 'and the other things'. (The more usual Greek form was και τα λοιπά καὶ τὰ loipa, 'and the remainder'.).


A foreword is a (usually short) piece of writing sometimes placed at the beginning of a book or other piece of literature. Typically written by someone other than the primary author of the work, it often tells of some interaction between the writer of the foreword and the book's primary author or the story the book tells. Later editions of a book sometimes have a new foreword prepended (appearing before an older foreword if there was one), which might explain in what respects that edition differs from previous ones.

When written by the author, the foreword may cover the story of how the book came into being or how the idea for the book was developed, and may include thanks and acknowledgments to people who were helpful to the author during the time of writing. Unlike a preface, a foreword is always signed.

Information essential to the main text is generally placed in a set of explanatory notes, or perhaps in an introduction, rather than in the foreword or preface.

The pages containing the foreword and preface (and other front matter) are typically not numbered as part of the main work, which usually uses Arabic numerals. If the front matter is paginated, it uses lowercase Roman numerals. If there is both a foreword and a preface, the foreword appears first; both appear before the introduction, which may be paginated either with the front matter or the main text.

The word foreword was first used around the mid-17th century, originally as a term in philology. It was possibly a calque of German Vorwort, itself a calque of Latin praefatio.

Fútbol Americano

"Fútbol Americano" was the marketing name used for the first National Football League (NFL) regular season game held outside the United States. Played on October 2, 2005 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, the Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 31–14. The game drew an NFL regular season record of 103,467 paid fans.The name "Fútbol Americano" is Spanish for "American football," a term used to distinguish it from fútbol, which is Spanish for association football (soccer in American English). Fútbol is an approximation of the English word "football" in Spanish phonology; a more literal translation of "foot ball" is balompié, a calque term that is not used in Spanish-speaking countries other than for stylistic purposes in media.

Kannauji language

Kannauji is an Indo-Aryan language spoken the Kannauj region of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Kannauji is closely related to Hindustani, with a lexical similarity of 83–94% with Hindi. Some consider it to be a dialect of Hindustani, whereas others consider it a separate Western Hindi language. Kannauji has about 6 million speakers.

Kannauji shares many structural and functional differences from other dialects of Hindi, but in the Linguistic Survey of India it has been added as a variant of Braj and Awadhi.

Kannauji has two dialects or variants of its own: Tirhari and Transitional Kannauji, which is between standard Kannauji and Awadhi.


Lexicalization is the process of adding words, set phrases, or word patterns to a language – that is, of adding items to a language's lexicon.

Whether or not word formation and lexicalization refer to the same process is a source of controversy within the field of linguistics. Most linguists assert that there is a distinction, but there are many ideas of what the distinction is. Lexicalization may be simple, for example borrowing a word from another language, or more involved, as in calque or loan translation, wherein a foreign phrase is translated literally, as in marché aux puces, or in English, flea market.

Other mechanisms include compounding, abbreviation, and blending. Particularly interesting from the perspective of historical linguistics is the process by which ad hoc phrases become set in the language, and eventually become new words. (See lexicon for details.) Lexicalization contrasts with grammaticalization, and the relationship between the two processes is subject to some debate.

List of calques

A calque or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word (Latin: "verbum pro verbo") or word-for-word translation. This list contains examples of calques in various languages.


A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word adopted from one language (the donor language) and incorporated into another language without translation. This is in contrast to cognates, which are words in two or more languages that are similar because they share an etymological origin, and calques, which involve translation.

Matter (philosophy)

Matter is the substrate from which physical existence is derived, remaining more or less constant amid changes. The word "matter" is derived from the Latin word māteria, meaning "wood", or “timber”, in the sense "material", as distinct from "mind" or "form". The image of wood came to Latin as a calque from the Greek philosophical usage of hyle (ὕλη).


The concept of an otherworld in historical Indo-European religion is reconstructed in comparative mythology.

Its name is a calque of orbis alius (Latin for "other Earth/world"), a term used by Lucan in his description of the Celtic Otherworld.

Comparable religious, mythological or metaphysical concepts, such as a realm of supernatural beings and a realm of the dead, are found in cultures throughout the world. Spirits are thought to travel between worlds, or layers of existence in such traditions, usually along an axis such as a giant tree, a tent pole, a river, a rope or mountains.

Right angle

In geometry and trigonometry, a right angle is an angle of exactly 90° (degrees), corresponding to a quarter turn. If a ray is placed so that its endpoint is on a line and the adjacent angles are equal, then they are right angles. The term is a calque of Latin angulus rectus; here rectus means "upright", referring to the vertical perpendicular to a horizontal base line.

Closely related and important geometrical concepts are perpendicular lines, meaning lines that form right angles at their point of intersection, and orthogonality, which is the property of forming right angles, usually applied to vectors. The presence of a right angle in a triangle is the defining factor for right triangles, making the right angle basic to trigonometry.


Rzeczpospolita Polska ([ʐɛt͡ʂpɔˈspɔlita] (listen)) is a traditional and official name of the Polish State.

It is a compound of rzecz "thing, matter" and pospolita "common", a calque of Latin res publica (res "thing" + publica "public, common"), i.e. republic, in English also rendered commonwealth.

In Poland, the word Rzeczpospolita Polska is used exclusively in relation to the Republic of Poland, while any other republic is referred to in Polish as a republika, e.g., Italian Republic — Polish: Republika Włoska.

Sorgenfri Palace

Sorgenfri Palace (Danish: Sorgenfri Slot; lit. "Sorrow free", a direct calque of Sans Souci) is a royal residence of the Danish monarch, located in Lyngby-Taarbæk Municipality, on the east side of Lyngby Kongevej, in the northern suburbs of Copenhagen. The surrounding neighbourhood is called Sorgenfri after it. Only the cellar and foundations survive of the first Sorgenfri House, which was built in 1705 to design by François Dieussart. The current house was built in 1756 by Lauritz de Thurah and later adapted and extended by Peter Meyn in the 1790s. Lauritz de Thurah has also designed buildings which flank the driveway closer to the road.

Sorgenfri Palace is surrounded by a large park which is bounded by Mølleåen to the east. It was adapted to the English Romantic style in the late 1790s and early 1899s and contains several small buildings.

Christian X used it as a summer residence and it has later been part of it let out to relatives of the royal family. The park is open to the public.

Sun cross

A sun cross, solar cross, or wheel cross is a solar symbol consisting of an equilateral cross inside a circle.

The design is frequently found in the symbolism of prehistoric cultures, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods of European prehistory. The symbol's ubiquity and apparent importance in prehistoric religion have given rise to its interpretation as a solar symbol, whence the modern English term "sun cross" (a calque of German: Sonnenkreuz).

The same symbol is in use as a modern astronomical symbol representing the Earth rather than the Sun.

The symbol can be depicted using Unicode as U+1F728 🜨 ALCHEMICAL SYMBOL FOR VERDIGRIS. The characters U+2295 ⊕ CIRCLED PLUS and U+2A01 ⨁ N-ARY CIRCLED PLUS OPERATOR are similar in appearance but represent mathematical operators.


Wednesday is the day of the week between Tuesday and Thursday. According to international standard ISO 8601 it is the third day of the week. In countries that have Friday as their holiday and in the Islamic calendar, Wednesday would be the fifth day of the week. In countries that use the Sunday-first convention and in the Jewish Hebrew calendar Wednesday is defined as the fourth day of the week. The name is derived from Old English Wōdnesdæg and Middle English Wednesdei, "day of Woden", reflecting the pre-Christian religion practiced by the Anglo-Saxons, a variation of the Norse god Odin. In other languages, such as the French mercredi or Italian mercoledì, the day's name is a calque of dies Mercurii "day of Mercury".

Wednesday is in the middle of the common Western five-day workweek that starts on Monday and finishes on Friday.

Word formation

In linguistics, word formation is the creation of a new word. Word formation is sometimes contrasted with semantic change, which is a change in a single word's meaning. The boundary between word formation and semantic change can be difficult to define: a new use of an old word can be seen as a new word derived from an old one and identical to it in form. See 'conversion'.

Zoe (name)

Zoe (and its variants) is a female first name, originally from the Greek (ζωή), meaning life or existence. It is a calque of the Biblical Hebrew Hava/Eve (חַוָּה).

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