Printable Version
Pronunciation: kælk Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Loan translation, a word-for-word translation of a phrase or compound word in another language. The phrase "that goes without saying" is a calque of French "cela va sans dire".

Notes: The QUE pronounced [k] at the end of today's word is a sure sign of recent French borrowing. Just remember to spell this word correctly. That ending prevents any English suffixes which pretty much assures this word is a lexical orphan without derivational family.

In Play: Nostalgia was a loan translation of German Heimweh "homeward woe" into Greek nostos "homecoming" + algos "pain". Notwithstanding is a calque of Latin phrase 'non obstante' "not obstructing", literally "not standing against". However, calques do not work on idiomatic phrases. Imagine a calque of "he flew off the handle". Nikita Khrushchev got into hot water when his translator used a calque to translate "We will bury you", meaning simply that "We will outlive/survive you." The implications of the Russian idiom in English were so striking that it earned an entry in Wikipedia..

Word History: This word was borrowed from French (and never returned) calquer "to trace, copy", itself borrowed from Italian calcare "to press". Italian inherited its word from Latin calcare "to tread on", a verb based on calx (calc-s) "heel". English contains another word based on calx: calk, referring to cleats on the bottom of athletic shoes. This is about all that is known of calx. It also meant "limestone", so ended up in English as chalk. (Today we tip our hats to Rob Towart for suggesting today's fascinating Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!