People tend to follow two extremes: either to stick to traditions, something that people are used to or to follow the stream, choose what is so innovative and up to date. Thus, the question of new words and the ways of their translation is quite relevant today.
These preferences are reflected in multiple ways but mostly it is mirrored by the choice of style, daily activities, and even words. People who are more into new things tend to involve neologisms to speak about reality.
What are neologisms?
Neologisms are newly coined terms, words, or phrases, that may be commonly used in everyday life but have yet to be formally accepted as constituting mainstream language. Neologisms represent the evolving nature of the English language. Over time people create new words that express concepts or ideas that were previously expressed using other words or use words that may not have existed at all. Neologisms can be completely new words, new meanings for existing words or new semes in existing words.
Today neologisms penetrate into our language so quickly and easily and we can not find other ways to substitute them.
Examples of Social Networking and Technology
- Crowdsourcing: The activity of getting a large group of people to contribute to a project or task, especially by using a website where people can make contributions; for example, online proofreading services.
- Geobragging: Repeated status updates noting your location in an attempt to get attention or make other people jealous.
- App: Software application for a smartphone or tablet computer.
- Noob: Someone who is new to an online community or game.
- Ego surfer: A person who boosts his ego by searching for his own name on Google and other search engines.
Examples of Popular Culture Neologisms
- Tebowing: description of a prayerful victory stance derived from NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.
- Brangelina: used to refer to supercouple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
- Metrosexual: A man who dedicates a great deal of time and money to his appearance.
- Muffin top: This refers to the (often unsightly) roll of fat that appears on top of trousers that feature a low waist.
- BFF: Stands for best friends forever. Used to state how close you are to another individual.
- Chilax: To calm down or relax, it is a slang term used when someone is starting to get uptight about something that is happening.
- Staycation: A vacation at home or in the immediate local area.
Trademarks That are Genericized
Brand names or Words that were created especially for advertising and PR campaigns that are now used generically. These are sometimes also referred to as generonyms (a neologism in itself):
Why are neologisms a difficulty for translators?
Neologisms are perhaps the non-literary and the professional translator’s biggest problem. New objects and processes are continually created in technology. New ideas and variations on feelings come from the media. Terms from the social sciences, slang, dialect coming into the mainstream of language, transferred words, make up the rest. It has been stated that each language acquire 3000 new words, annually, but in fact, neologisms can not be accurately quantified, since so many hover between acceptance and oblivion and many are short-lived, individual creations.
Translators who work in the scientific and technical fields are always coming across difficult words to translate. This is not necessarily because of the specificity of the text; it’s also because most research and discoveries in these areas often come from foreign countries. And many times the recent discovery hasn’t given the target language sufficient time to determine the appropriate term to describe these events.
Obviously, English dictionaries cannot register immediately all new words, figurative phrases and nonce words which annually enrich our vocabulary by tens of thousands of new words. As a result, translators need to rely on the context and try to transfer the meanings of neologisms into the target language instead of looking them up in the other, often less reliable sources, including online dictionaries. It means that they have to “invent” new words following some word-building patterns or explain English neologisms using the descriptive method.
The origins of neologisms are often roughly divided into two groups: linguistic and extra-linguistic which are, however, inseparable. Various types of word-building and borrowings refer to the first group, and the extra-linguistic sources can be of political, economical, social (hipster), scientific, and technological origin. Nevertheless, it does not mean that neologisms coming from extra-linguistic sources cannot be a result of word-building which shows the interconnection between these two factors.
Ways of translation of new words:
– Selection of an appropriate analog in a target language
– Transcription and transliteration
– Loan translation and calque
– Explanatory translation and descriptive translation
The first method is the easiest one. If the word is fixed in the dictionaries, there is usually no problem with finding equivalents. Nevertheless, it is not always possible to find an appropriate analogue in the target language, which can be explained by different cultural levels or even political situation in the corresponding countries. Without any background information about the meanings of new words, translators risk misusing the words in the target language. It is especially important to check them while using the descriptive (explanatory) method of translation.
The so-called “language conciseness” typical for English makes the translators to use two other methods: transliteration and transcription. Transcription helps to maintain the sound form of the source word with the help of another script, while transliteration implies transformation of letters into another alphabet. In practice, both methods are often combined.
Loan translation does not change the original word at all. This method concerns the borrowings from different languages which preferably need to be preserved due to the absence of the original concepts and notions which are borrowed as well.
The more general questions of neologism translation are dependent on language planning, policy, and politics. Also, the translation of such language phenomenon depends on the target and source language, the context and the message itself. It is highly important to select the proper way to complete the translation. But as there are so many ways to translate them it is a translator who plays the vital role in neologism translation and interpretation.