In linguistics, a calque/kælk/ or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word or root-for-root translation. Used as a verb, "to calque" means to borrow a word or phrase from another language while translating its components, so as to create a new lexeme in the target language.
"Calque" itself is a loanword from the French nouncalque ("tracing; imitation; close copy"); the verbcalquer means "to trace; to copy, to imitate closely"; papier calque is "tracing paper". The word "loanword" is itself a calque of the German word Lehnwort, just as "loan translation" is a calque of Lehnübersetzung.
Proving that a word is a calque sometimes requires more documentation than does an untranslated loanword because, in some cases, a similar phrase might have arisen in both languages independently. This is less likely to be the case when the grammar of the proposed calque is quite different from that of the borrowing language, or when the calque contains less obvious imagery.
the syntactic calque, with syntactic functions or constructions of the source language being imitated in the target language, in violation of their meaning. For example, in Spanish the legal term for “to find guilty” is properly "declarar culpable" (“to declare guilty”). Informal usage, however, is shifting to "encontrar culpable": a syntactic mapping of "to find" without a semantic correspondence in Spanish of “find” to mean “determine as true”.
the loan-translation, with words being translated morpheme-by-morpheme or component-by-component into another language. The two morphemes of the Swedish word tonåring calque each part of the English "teenager": femton = "fifteen"; åring = "year-old" (as in the phrase "tolv-åring" = "twelve-year-old").
the semantic calque, with additional meanings of the source word being transferred to the word with the same primary meaning in the target language. This is also called a "semantic loan". As described below, the "computer mouse" was named in English for its resemblance to the animal; many other languages have extended their own native word for "mouse" to include the computer mouse.
the morphological calque, with the inflection of a word being transferred.
This terminology is not universal. Some authors call a morphological calque a "morpheme-by-morpheme translation".
Other linguists refer to the phonological calque, where the pronunciation of a word is imitated in the other language. For example, the English word "radar" becomes the similar-sounding Chinese word "雷达" (pinyin "léi dá").
Loan blends or partial calques translate some parts of a compound, but not others. For example, the name of the Irish digital television service Saorview is a partial calque of that of the UK service Freeview, translating the first half of the word from English to Irish but leaving the second half unchanged. Other examples are: "liverwurst" (< German Leberwurst), "apple strudel" (< German Apfelstrudel).
The remaining Slavic languages instead calqued their words for "translation" from an alternative Latin word, traductio, itself derived from traducere ("to lead across" or "to bring across", from trans, "across" + ducere, "to lead" or "to bring").
The English verb "to translate" similarly derives from the Latin translatio, itself derived from transferre, "to transfer": in this case, "transferred" (translatus) from one language to another. Were the English verb "translate" calqued, it would be "overset", akin to the calques in other Germanic languages.
Following are the Germanic- and Slavic-language calques for "translation":
^Overzetting (noun) and overzetten (verb) in the sense of "translation" and "to translate", respectively, are considered archaic. While omzetting may still be found in early modern literary works, it has been replaced entirely in modern Dutch by vertaling.
^The New Cassell's French Dictionary: French-English, English-French, New York, Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1962, p. 122.