04 January 2014

Second Hand

I have previously mentioned calques, or word-for-word translations across languages, such as the following from English into Malay: kenderaan pacuan empat roda ('4 wheel drive vehicle'), mengambil bahagian ('take part'), and sepakan percuma ('free kick'). Another one is pencakar langit ('skyscraper').

In fact, calques are common in many different languages. The Wikipedia page on calques (here) lists a calque of 'skyscraper' into 43 different languages.

Chinese also has plenty of calques from English. Sometimes it is not clear if a word is a calque or an indigenous creation. For example, is 书店 'bookshop') a calque from the English word or just a creation from Chinese morphemes with no influence from the English word? It is hard to tell.

However, some are easier to determine, and it seems that 二手 (second hand) almost certainly comes directly from English. The picture on the right was taken outside a shop offering second hand goods in Taitung, Taiwan.