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Mar 22, 2010This week's theme
This week's words
moment of truth
bread and circuses
Discuss this week's words
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A.Word.A.Daywith Anu Garg
Languages freely borrow words from one another. Often a borrowed word becomes so assimilated we don't realize its exotic provenance. If you speak English, you know parts of at least a hundred different languages. Besides the usual sources -- Latin, Greek, German, French, etc. -- English has words borrowed from languages as diverse as Tongan (taboo), Hindi (cot), Hungarian (coach), among others.
Sometimes languages borrow only the idea from a language and translate a word literally. English skyscraper becomes rascacielos (literally scrape-skies) in Spanish, gratte-ciel in French, Wolkenkratzer in German, and so on. This process of borrowing is called loan translation or calque (from French calquer: to trace or copy).
German Gedankenexperiment becomes "thought experiment" in English through loan translation. French marché aux puces gets translated as flea market. The term loan translation itself is a loan translation of German Lehnübersetzung.
This week in AWAD we'll see five loan translations that have taken root in English, from Greek, Spanish, Latin, German, and Chinese.
cloud-cuckoo-land or cloud cuckoo land
MEANING:noun: An idealized, unrealistic state; a place out of touch with reality.
ETYMOLOGY:Loan translation of Greek Nephelokokkugia, from nephele (cloud) + kokkux (cuckoo). The word was coined in The Birds, a comedy by Athenian playwright Aristophanes (c. 450-388 BCE). Nephelokokkugia was the name of a city in the sky, built by the birds in collaboration with some Athenians.
USAGE:"'Retirement at 58 is cloud cuckoo land for most private sector workers, many of whom find their pension savings shot to pieces,' said Lord Oakeshott."
Holly Watt; The Million Pound Pension Pots of the Mandarins; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Jan 1, 2010.
See more usage examples of cloud-cuckoo-land in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:One cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole. -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)
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