Scientific Translators Beware of Tech Neologisms

“When one is translating one has to go right up to the untranslatable; but it is only at this point that one actually discovers the foreign nation and the foreign language.”                                                                                                                                                                                                  J. Goethe

After being in the US for a couple of months I`ve heard a great amount of new terms and abbreviations, especially when referring to technological devices, social networks and videogames. From text messages to web conferences, technology has introduced an arena of gadgets on the web and fresh terms for users. Since language is a dynamic system, these technological and social changes result in new words, which are known as “neologisms”. A neologism is a “new word or expression, or a word used with a new meaning”, according to the Longman Dictionary of English. It is a word or phrase that has been recently coined to denominate new concepts, name up-to – date inventions or simply add a new sense to an existing word. Nowadays we find new terms like “crowdfunding”, “infographics”, “cloud storage”, “ to unfriend” someone, to “follow” someone, and even “tweeps” or “dweeps”. If you are interested on reading more about technological terms, please click here.

New words, so what?

According to Peter Newmark, neologisms are the most problematic terms for scientific translators, since they have to translate these neologisms in a way that appears written naturally to the reader. I would say that it is highly recommendable to avoid borrowing terms unless they do not have a translation. We should first try to apply the most common procedures like transference, naturalization, or paraphrasing and then borrow the term if we have exhausted all available resources. For example, the English verb “to click” has been is naturalized in Spanish as “hacer clic”, which respects the language correct spelling. (In Spanish the combination of the characters “ck” is not natural). Each tech word is different; however, we have to keep an eye to the latest neologisms and whether there had been accurate translations on a certain field.

Did you like this post? Please leave any comments or concerns that you may have. Next week`s post is going to be on language interference.

Works Cited:

– Newmark, Peter. 1988. A Textbook of Translation. UK: Prentice Hall International Ltd.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s