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Title: Calque  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Translation, Loanword, Anglicism, Finland Swedish, Quebec French lexicon
Collection: Calques, Etymology, Linguistic Purism
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In linguistics, a calque () or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word (Latin: verbum pro verbo) 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 is a loanword from a French noun, and derives from the verb calquer (to trace, to copy).[1] The word “Loanword” is 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).


  • Types of calque 1
  • Examples 2
    • Flea market 2.1
    • Skyscraper 2.2
    • Translation 2.3
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Types of calque

One system classifies calques into five groups:[4]

  • the semantic calque, where additional meanings of the source word are transferred to the word with the same primary meaning in the target language;
  • the phraseological calque, where idiomatic phrases are translated word-for-word;
  • the syntactic calque, where a syntactic function or construction in the source language is imitated in the target language;
  • the loan-translation, where a word is translated morpheme-by-morpheme into another language;
  • the morphological calque, where the inflection of a word is transferred.

This terminology is not universal. Some authors call a morpheme-by-morpheme translation a "morphological calque".[5]


Flea market

The common English phrase flea market is a phraseological calque of the French marché aux puces 'market with fleas',[6] as are the German Flohmarkt, Dutch vlooienmarkt, Serbian buvlja pijaca, Czech bleší trh, Finnish kirpputori, Hungarian bolhapiac and so on.


An example of a morpheme-by-morpheme loan-translation is French gratte-ciel 'scrapes-sky', from English "skyscraper". Similarly:

  • Albanian: qiellgërvishtës ("sky-scraper")
  • Afrikaans: wolkekrabber ("clouds-scraper")
  • Arabic: ناطحة سحاب (nāṭiḥa suḥāb, "clouds-rammer")
  • Armenian: երկնաքեր (yerg-n-a-ker, "sky-scratcher")
  • Azerbaijani: göydələn ("sky-piercer")
  • Bengali: "akash-jharu আকাশঝাড়ু" ("sky-sweeper") or "gagan-chumbi গগনচুম্বী" ("sky-kisser")
  • Bosnian: neboder ("sky-ripper")
  • Bulgarian: небостъргач (nebostărgač, "sky-scraper")
  • Catalan: gratacel ("scrapes-sky")
  • Chinese: Simplified: 摩天楼, Traditional: 摩天樓 (mótiānlóu, "sky-scraping building")
  • Croatian: neboder ("sky-ripper")
  • Czech and Slovak: mrakodrap ("cloud-scraper")
  • Danish: skyskraber ("cloud-scraper")
  • Dutch: wolkenkrabber ("clouds-scratcher")
  • Estonian: pilvelõhkuja ("cloud-breaker")
  • Finnish: pilvenpiirtäjä ("cloud-sketcher")
  • French: gratte-ciel ("scrapes-sky")
  • German: Wolkenkratzer ("clouds-scraper")
  • Greek: ουρανοξύστης (uranoxístis, "sky-scraper")
  • Hebrew: גורד שחקים (goréd šħaqím, "scraper of skies")
  • Hindi: गगनचुंबी (gagan-chumbi, "sky-kisser")
  • Hungarian: felhőkarcoló ("cloud-scraper")
  • Icelandic: skýjakljúfur ("cloud-splitter")
  • Indonesian and Malay: pencakar langit ("sky-scraper")
  • Italian: grattacielo ("scrapes-sky")
  • Japanese: 摩天楼 (matenrou, "sky-scraping tower")
  • Latvian: debesskrāpis ("sky-scraper")
  • Lithuanian: dangoraižis ("sky-scraper")
  • Macedonian: облакодер (oblakoder, "cloud-scraper")
  • Malayalam: അംബരചുംബി (ambaracumbi, "sky-kisser")
  • Mongolian: тэнгэр баганадсан барилга (tenger baganadsan barilga, "sky-pillaring building")
  • Norwegian: skyskraper ("cloud-scraper")
  • Persian: آسمانخراش (âsmânkhrâsh, "sky-scraper")
  • Polish: drapacz chmur ("cloud-scraper")
  • Portuguese: arranha-céu ("scrapes-sky")
  • Romanian: zgârie-nori ("scrapes-clouds")
  • Russian: небоскрёб (neboskryob, "sky-scraper")
  • Serbian: небодер (neboder, "sky-ripper")
  • Slovene: nebotičnik ("sky-rubber,-toucher")
  • Spanish: rascacielos ("scrapes-skies")
  • Swedish: skyskrapa ("sky-scraper")
  • Tagalog: gusaling tukudlangit ("building poking the sky")
  • Tamil: வானளாவி (vāṉaḷāvi, "sky-reacher")
  • Thai: ตึกระฟ้า (tụkraf̂ā, "sky-scraping building")
  • Turkish: gökdelen ("sky-piercer")
  • Ukrainian: хмарочос (hmaročos, "cloud-scratcher")
  • Vietnamese: nhà chọc trời ("sky-poking building")
  • Welsh: cwmwlgrafwr ("cloud scraper")


The word translation, etymologically, means a "carrying across" or "bringing across": the Latin translatio derives from trans, "across" + latus, "borne".[7]

Some European languages have calqued their words for the concept of "translation" on the kindred Latin traducere ("to lead across" or "to bring across", from trans, "across" + ducere, "to lead" or "to bring").[7]

European languages of the Romance, Germanic and Slavic branches have calqued their terms for the concept of translation on these Latin models.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Calque, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000
  2. ^ Robb: German English Words
  3. ^  
  4. ^ May Smith, The Influence of French on Eighteenth-century Literary Russian, p. 29-30.
  5. ^ Claude Gilliot, "The Authorship of the Qur'ān" in Gabriel Said Reynolds, The Qur'an in its Historical Context, p. 97
  6. ^ flea market. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000
  7. ^ a b c Christopher Kasparek, "The Translator's Endless Toil", The Polish Review, vol. XXVIII, no. 2, 1983, p. 83.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "leading across" or "putting across"
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "putting across"


  • Christopher Kasparek, "The Translator's Endless Toil", The Polish Review, vol. XXVIII, no. 2, 1983, pp. 83–87.
  • Robb: German English Words
  • Ghil'ad Zuckermann, "Hybridity versus Revivability: Multiple Causation, Forms and Patterns", Journal of Language Contact, Varia 2, 2009, pp. 40–67.
  • Ghil'ad Zuckermann, Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, ISBN 1-4039-1723-X.

External links

  • EtymOnline
  • Merriam Webster Online
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