02 August 2010

Mouse Trail

I have previously discussed calques (here), in which the parts of a word or phrase are translated item-by-item from one language into another. For example, the Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics (2002, p.314) gives the example of the English word almighty, which apparently comes from the Latin omni+potens; and A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics (Blackwell, 2003, p.61) suggests that the English phrase power politics comes from the German Machtpolitik and also that the English Superman comes from the German √úbermensch.

I previously mentioned the occurrence in English in Brunei of mouse trail, which is a calque from Malay jalan tikus to refer to illegal paths through the forest, often used for smuggling goods. I just saw this headline in the Borneo Bulletin, with mouse trail in the headline.It is interesting to see that this calque occurs commonly in Brunei, and that it is used without explanation, in the expectation that local readers will know what it means.

There must be some other calques from Malay into the English written and spoken in Brunei, but I cannot think of any at the moment.