What's the jargon for a "convergent" word?
December 10, 2007 6:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a term my professor used to use for "convergent words." What do you call a word that uses roots with similar meanings to form the same concept across two languages? (either by chance or direct-translation)

No, not a cognant. A cognant would be a word that just plain comes from the same origin, and therefore is similar across two languages, like the English/Spanish pairing of "circumstance/circunstancia."

What I'm talking about is more like the English/Russian pairing of "circumstance/обстоятельства*," where "об-" means roughly "circum/around" and "стоят" means roughly "stand." Also there's "crosswalk/переход*" where "пере-" is roughly "across" and "ход" is roughly "go/walk." The roots have the same meanings, but different origins.

Wiktionary says that in Brasilian-Portuguese a "computer mouse" is called a "mouse," as a cognant with the English. However, in Portugal, a native translation with the same concept as in English (rodent) is used, "rato." What would "rato" be?

I know there's a bit of jargon to describe these "convergent" words, what is it?

*, for the sounder-outers:
обстоятельства = "obstoyatel'stva"
переход = "perekhod"
posted by mecenday to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: These sound like calques to me.

(Also, it's cognate, not cognant.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:55 AM on December 10, 2007

Well, I'd call them "literal translations", but IANAL. I also may be completely missing the point of your question.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:58 AM on December 10, 2007

Loanword? Semantic loan? False cognate?
posted by aerotive at 7:02 AM on December 10, 2007

Response by poster: ... that's the one nebulawindphone... thanks!

(And, whoops. =))
posted by mecenday at 7:04 AM on December 10, 2007

posted by rhoticity at 10:36 AM on December 10, 2007

posted by gecko12 at 10:37 AM on December 10, 2007

oops, I'm sorry, I didn't read the extended question before piping up. :(
posted by gecko12 at 10:44 AM on December 10, 2007

From the wiki page on calques:

English cross-dressing calques German Transvestismus

What's the word for realizing you should have more-deeply understood a word's meaning before reading about it on Wikipedia?

Trans. Vestis. I'm an idiot.
posted by rokusan at 11:09 AM on December 10, 2007

Best answer: An equivalent of calque is loan translation, if you prefer to avoid opaque foreign borrowings.
posted by languagehat at 11:29 AM on December 10, 2007

Dude, that wiki page is SO. COOL. Thanks very much for posting this question.
posted by Phire at 2:28 PM on December 10, 2007

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