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Calque

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San Diego

San Diego tiene muchos rascacielos. (San Diego has many skyscrapers.)

Port of San Diego photo by Dale Frost; licensed via Creative Commons.

Definition: A word or phrase in one language whose semantic components (words or parts of words) are translations from another language. For example, the English phrase "blue blood" is a calque of the Spanish phrase sangre azul (sangre means "blood" and azul means "blue"), which at one time apparently referred to the visible veins of fair-skinned people. Similarly, the Spanish rascacielo is a calque of the English "skyscraper" (rasca means "it scrapes" and cielo means "sky"). A calque contrasts with a loanword, in which a foreign word or phrase is adopted outright without an attempt at translating the elements, such as the English phrase "piña colada," which is a simple borrowing of the Spanish phrase rather than a translation of the words (they mean "strained pineapple").

Also known as: "Loan translation" in English, calco in Spanish.

Examples: Another English calque from Spanish is "moment of truth," from el momento de la verdad, a bullfighting term. Examples of Spanish calques from English include hombre rana ("frogman"), alto el fuego ("cease-fire"), lavaplatos ("dishwasher"), luna de miel ("honeymoon"), salvaje Oeste ("wild West"), disco duro ("hard disk") and banco de datos ("data bank").

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