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Translation of The Neologisms


Neologisms can be defined as newly coined lexical units or existing lexical units that acquire a new sense. In other words, Neologisms are new words, word-combinations or fixed phrases that appear in the language due to the development of social life, culture, science and engineering. New meanings of existing words are also accepted as neologisms. A problem of translation of new words ranks high on the list of challenges facing translators because such words are not readily found in ordinary dictionaries and even in the newest specialized dictionaries.

Neologisms pass through three stages:

  • Creation
  • Trial
  • Establishment
Neologisms as a Problem:

Neologisms are a problem because of

  • New ideas and variations because of media
  • Excessive use of Slang
  • Each language acquires 3000 new words annually
  • Most people like neologisms, and so the media and commercial interests exploit this liking.


  • Old Words With New Sense:

Sometimes existing words are used with new sense. Old words with new senses tend to be non-cultural and nontechnical. It should be translated according to context. i.e GAY word was differently used in different centuries. In 12thcentury it was used aswanton, lewd, lascivious, as a surname, in 14th century as full of joy, merry; light-hearted, carefree, from 17th-19th century ashed an overall tinge of promiscuity, and in 20th century it has been used as homosexual, boring and not fashionable.

  • New Coinages:

It is the creation of totally new words. Nowadays, the main new coinages are brand or trade names. To translate coinages

  1. Brand names are transferred.
  2. It should be replaced by the same or equivalent morphemes.
  3. Phonaesthetic equivalent
  • Derived Words:

They designate scientific and technological terms. To translate derived words:

  1. Consult the appropriate ISO glossary
  2. Are they permanent/ functional/ worth translating?
  3. Distinguish lexical parts (root and affixes)
  4. Understand the referential basis
  • Abbreviations:

Abbreviations have always been a common type of pseudo-neologism, probably more common in French than in English. i.e www=   World Wide Web. Abbreviations and company/institution acronyms are transferred, with a descriptive explanation or note until they become widely known.

  • Collocations:

New collocations (noun compounds or adjective plus noun) are particularly common in the social sciences and in computer language. i.e lead  time and cold-calling. It should be translated according to context.

  • Eponyms:

Eponyms are any word derived from a proper name. i.e; Hallidayan,  Kinnairdians . To translate eponyms:

  1. Generic term is added until they are widely known
  2. Translate by sense
  • Phrasal Words:

New ‘phrasal words’  are restricted to English’s  facility  in converting verbs to Trade-off, check-out (dans, supermarkets). They should be translated by their semantic (meaning) equivalents.

  • Transferred Words:

Newly transferred words keep only one sense of their foreign nationality; they are the words whose meanings are least dependent on their contexts. They are likely to be ‘media’ or ‘product’ rather than technological neologisms. i.e Newly  imported  foodstuffs,  clothes. They should be translated as:

  • Functional / descriptive equivalent
  • Newly imported words are transferred with a generic term
  • Acronyms:

Acronyms are an increasingly common feature of all non-literary texts, for reasons of brevity. In science the letters  are occasionally joined up and become internationalisms. I.e. URL (pronounced “earl“) uniform resource locator. To translate acronyms:

  1. Company/institution acronyms are transferred, with a descriptive explanation or note until they become widely known
  2. For other acronyms, standard equivalent or descriptive term is used
  3. For international institutions, acronyms switch for every languages
  • Pseudo-Neologisms:

The  translator has to beware of pseudo-neologisms where, for instance, a generic word stands in for a specific  word.


  • Scientific:

Words or phrases created to describe new scientific discoveries. Example: prion

  • Political:

Words or phrases created to make some kind of political or rhetorical point, sometimes perhaps with an eye to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Example: pro-life. Some political neologisms, however, are intended to convey a negative point of view. Example: brutalitarian

  • Pop-culture:

Words or phrases evolved from mass media content or used to describe popular culture phenomena (these may be considered a subsection of slang). Example: carb

  • Imported:

Words or phrases originating in another language. Typically they are used to express ideas that have no equivalent term in the native language. (See loanword.) Example: tycoon

  • Trademarks

Trademarks are often neologisms to ensure they are distinguished from other brands. If legal trademark protection is lost, the neologism may enter the language as a generalized trademark. Example: Kodak

  • Nonce words:

Words coined and used only for a particular occasion, usually for a special literary effect

  • Inverted

Words that are derived from spelling (and pronouncing) a standard word backwards are called inverted. Example: redrum

  • Paleologism:

A word that is alleged to be a neologism but turns out to be a long-used (if obscure) word is called paleologism. It is used ironically.

Types of Neologism (BY STABILITY):

  • Unstable:

Extremely new, being proposed, or being used only by a very small subculture.

  • Diffused:

Having reached a significant audience, but not yet having gained acceptance.

  • Stable:

Having gained recognizable and probably lasting acceptance.

The Creation of Neologisms:

In non-literary texts, one should not normally create neologisms. It can be created only:

(a) If one has authority;

(b) If one composes it out of readily understood Greco-Latin morphemes.

There is no point in creating a neologism by transferring the word, since it is likely to be a brand name. Therefore one may translate a word adding a footnote for one’s client.

Duty of a Translator:

Firstly, in a literary text, it is his duty to re-create any neologism he meets on the basis of the SL neologism: in other authoritative texts, he should normally do so.

Secondly, when translating a popular advertisement, he can create a neologism.

Thirdly, he can transfer an SL cultural word, if for one reason or another he thinks it important.

If he recreates an SL neologism using the same Graeco-Latin morphemes, he has to assure himself:

(a)  That no other translation already exists;

  • That both the referent and the neologism are not trivial- and that they are likely to interest the SL readership.
  • He should acknowledge at least with inverted commas any neologism he creates.

Contextual Factors Involved in The Translation of Neologism:

  1. Value and purpose of neolog
  2. Importance of neolog to
  3. SL culture;
  4. TL culture;
  5. general
  6. Recency
  7. Frequency
  8. Likely duration
  9. Translator’s authority
  10. Recognized translation
  11. Existence of referents TL culture 9.
  12. Transparency or opaqueness of neolog
  13. Type of text
  14. Readership
  15. Settings
  16. Fashion, clique, commercial
  17. Euphony
  18. Is neolog in competition with others?
  19. Is neolog linguistically justified?
  20. Is neolog likely to become internationalism?
  21. Is neolog (acronym) being formed for prestige reasons?
  22. Milieu
  23. Status and currency of neologism in SL

Translation of Neologisms:

  • Transference [with neolog inverted commas)
  • TL neologism (with composites)
  • TL derived word with Naturalization
  • Recognized TL translation
  • Functional term
  • Descriptive term
  • Literal translation
  • Translation procedure
  • Combinations (couplets etc.)
  • Internationalism

He must focus on context to translate neologisms. Neologisms are usually formed on the basis of words and morphemes that already exist in the language. The analysis of these words and morphemes is an additional helpful tool in finding out the meaning of the neologism.The translator should remember word-formation rules, in particular the following:

  • Giving words new affixes
  • Creation of new meaning of existing words
  • Loanwords
Ways of Translating Neologisms:

There are different ways to translate neologism:

  • Selection of an appropriate analogue in a target language
  • Loan translation and calque
  • Transcription and transliteration
  • Explanatory translation and descriptive translation


The pith and marrow of this whole assignment is that neologisms are new words that become a part of a culture. It is really tough job to translate them. But there are so many ways to translate them it is translator who plays vital role in their translation and interpretation.

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