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Poll: Do you coin a new term if an equivalent phrase doesn't already exist?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 07:37
SITE STAFF
Jan 22, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you coin a new term if an equivalent phrase doesn't already exist?".

This poll was originally submitted by Yetta J Bogarde. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, but rarely Jan 22, 2014

BTW I'm not sure if taking a term from one field and using it in another is the same as coining a new term but it can be a new usage. I have to do this occasionally.

Sometimes it's the best solution. And sometimes it simply consists of sticking an "e-" in front of a well-worn traditional term that has now become virtual/digital/electronic, such as "e-Procurement", or using a lower case "e" even at the start of the sentence.

[Edited at 2014-01-22 10:38 GMT]


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:37
Member (2006)
German to English
Other Jan 22, 2014

Must pass here as I must honestly say that I am not sure what is meant by "coining" something and I dont have the time to look into it now.

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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 23:37
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Yes, but rarely Jan 22, 2014

Not exactly sure how I can coin an 'equivalent phrase?'

Sometimes the products I translate have a function(s) not available on competitor products in the market. In this case, the customer will provide me with a list of terms specific to that product or I will contact the customer if the correct term is nowhere to be found and we can discuss how to deal with the problem in that particular content.

Language is in a state of constant flux, so are its vocabulary and terms. Who on earth 100 years ago would have understood what the 'Internet' meant?


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:37
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jan 22, 2014

Only if it's obviously a coined term in the original text.

Otherwise, I don't think it's our job to invent words; we should be working with the set that has been given to us. Of course, my target language is English. Other languages may not have such a large vocabulary. In the case of languages that lack contemporary vocabulary, it would be a different story.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 17:37
Turkish to English
+ ...
Sometimes Jan 22, 2014

In legal translation, especially if one is translating from or to a language used in a country having a civil law jurisdiction and the other language in the pair is English, spoken in countries with common law jurisdictions, then precise cognate terms do not always exist and it is sometimes necessary to coin a term, if somebody has not already done so. In fact, there are cases where it is better to use a made-up word rather than a roughly cognate term, because the latter will only be an approximation and may lead a legal expert who knows the target language to assume that it is a precise equivalent.

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Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:37
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
Again, the wording was altered Jan 22, 2014

I actually wrote 'an equivalent' and not 'an equivalent phrase', but that aside

I disagree with Muriel. New terms come into existence all the time and are needed
in this fast developing world. I also think that translators are obvious and capable
players in this game. And I can see how they have affected the IT-language in Danish
- more or less skillfully.

I think we have a responsibility here. When I see how e.g. the French are adopting English terms and often using them completely wrong, partly due to the noun/adjective inverted position in relation to English. E.g. a jogging suit becomes 'un jogging' etc. (I don't do French/English myself, but I worked for 5 years as an English teacher in Paris).

Of course, we don't want to reinvent the wheel and we don't want to just launch a new word at the spur of the moment before adequate research and reflection.

[Edited at 2014-01-22 10:13 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-01-22 11:06 GMT]


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 16:37
German to English
+ ...
Fully agree Jan 22, 2014

Tim Drayton wrote:

In legal translation, especially if one is translating from or to a language used in a country having a civil law jurisdiction and the other language in the pair is English, spoken in countries with common law jurisdictions, then precise cognate terms do not always exist and it is sometimes necessary to coin a term, if somebody has not already done so. In fact, there are cases where it is better to use a made-up word rather than a roughly cognate term, because the latter will only be an approximation and may lead a legal expert who knows the target language to assume that it is a precise equivalent.


This is an issue I feel strongly about (not using rough cognates to avoid misinterpretation). What would be useful would be a means of finding out how others have already dealt with a specific expression so as to avoid a proliferation of alternatives (and hence further misunderstanding). Any suggestions, anyone?


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 15:37
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Jan 22, 2014

After exploiting all available avenues, maybe I would (context permitting), but only in very rare circumstances. In general, I try to avoid coining new terms. Part of my job as a translator is to render the source text as closely as possible, in all its originality. This entails the ability to use circumlocutions where a translation term does not exist, or is not known.

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:37
Russian to English
+ ...
It doesn't have to be a coined term in the original text. Jan 22, 2014

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

Only if it's obviously a coined term in the original text.

Otherwise, I don't think it's our job to invent words; we should be working with the set that has been given to us. Of course, my target language is English. Other languages may not have such a large vocabulary. In the case of languages that lack contemporary vocabulary, it would be a different story.

That a term exists in one language does not mean that it exists in another, especially the names of various institutions, documents, methods, etc. You often have to coin words and phrases in literary translation.

[Edited at 2014-01-22 10:54 GMT]


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:37
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Only if the source term is a new word Jan 22, 2014

The document I am working on at the moment is full of new terms coined by the author, and I am working very closely with the customer to create equivalent new terms in English. It's rather fun, but I have to be careful to differentiate between words which really are new and those which are just new to me. If I cannot find an equivalent term in the target language for a source word which is not new, I might use an explanatory phrase instead, or simply retain the source word with a footnote to explain the meaning.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:37
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Translators can take the lead Jan 22, 2014

David Wright wrote:

Tim Drayton wrote:

In legal translation, especially if one is translating from or to a language used in a country having a civil law jurisdiction and the other language in the pair is English, spoken in countries with common law jurisdictions, then precise cognate terms do not always exist and it is sometimes necessary to coin a term, if somebody has not already done so. In fact, there are cases where it is better to use a made-up word rather than a roughly cognate term, because the latter will only be an approximation and may lead a legal expert who knows the target language to assume that it is a precise equivalent.


This is an issue I feel strongly about (not using rough cognates to avoid misinterpretation). What would be useful would be a means of finding out how others have already dealt with a specific expression so as to avoid a proliferation of alternatives (and hence further misunderstanding). Any suggestions, anyone?


Precisely in the legal field, Danish lexicographers have been working on this question with terminology between Danish and English, and I have had the privilege of being taught by them.

So you can often find things in the dictionaries. Probably the equivalent applies more or less to German and Danish, but I don't know, only that there are lexicographers at work there too.

In other subject areas and language pairs, there is still a lot to be done, and there always will be as language and knowledge develop.

I do try to coin an expression if I can't find an equivalent, but I search and consult others first. So thanks to all those KudoZ colleagues for answers and inspiration!

It is a mistake to belive that there always will be an exact equivalent, and apparently similar idioms and proverbs may be treacherous false friends.

It's a great question, Yetta, with plenty of food for thought, so thank you!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
Splodgenessabounds Jan 22, 2014

Yetta J Bogarde wrote:
... New terms come into existence all the time and are needed
in this fast developing world.

Of course, we don't want to reinvent the wheel and we don't want to just launch a new word at the spur of the moment before adequate research and reflection.

[Edited at 2014-01-22 10:13 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-01-22 11:06 GMT]


So true. I must admit I quite like "moodle" (a doodle expressing a mood). On the other hand, I don't like "onesie" or selfie", or almost any other words I can think of that end in a diminutive "-ie", for some obscure reason.


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 16:37
French to English
+ ...
I never have Jan 22, 2014

but I might in the right circumstances.

Why do I always end up picking "other" on these polls?


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, but rarely Jan 22, 2014

Yes, why not?

I coined a word in English, but I can see from a Google search that it's only used in official type documents. It'll probably never make it into the larger English lexicon.


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