February 28, 2010

Wiki Friday: Calques

These are expressions taken from other languages and translated word-for-word or root-for-root. Most of them are probably overlooked; we never think about where they came from. For example...

the moment of truth (from Spanish, el momento de la verdad. Based on the moment when the bullfighter goes in for the kill.)

staircase wit (from French, l'esprit de l'escalier. When you have the perfect response, but too late; the person has already passed you on the staircase.)

homesickness (from German, heimweh)

brainwashing (from Chinese, 洗脑)

Calques go in both directions, of course.

Gratte-ciel in French and rascacielos in Spanish come from the English, skyscraper.

Laisser le bon temps rouler is an awesome/ridiculous Cajun expression I just heard from Melodee. Definitely a calque of Let the good times roll.

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