Loan Words and Calque

Sometimes we adopt a word from a language and translate it more or less literally. And Sometimes, we borrow words directly from another language. Let's learn!

Loan Words and Calques in The English Language

Here, we are going to learn what loan words and calque are and how we can distinguish them.

What Is Loan Word?

Borrowing or loan word is a word that is taken from a language and is used in another language, while calque or loan translation is a word that is translated into another language. For example:

Types of Loan-Words

loan words are those foreign words that one language borrows from another without changing their meaning. There are two types of loan words and we are going to clarify each of them.

  • Foreign words with the same spelling: a borrowed word of a foreign language that its orthography stays the same.

Umbrella from (Italian) to (English)

espresso from (Italian) to (English)

pasta from (Italian) to (English)

Café from (French) to (English)

crepe from (French) to (English)

Ski from (Norwegian) to (English)

Bazaar from (Persian) to (English)

\Umbrella\ from (Italian) to (English)

  • Foreign words with different spelling: The orthography of the word changes in the target language.

Chofer (Spanish) from (French) chauffeur

Futbal (Hungarian) from (English) Football

sˇekki (Finnish) from (English) check


In other languages like French, English words are used as well, like 'stress', 'cool.'

What Is Calque?

Loan-translation or calque is used when a word is translated word by word into another language. Remember that calque is a semantic or syntactic translation and it does not have phonetic matching.

Types of Calque

  • Phraseological calque: when idiomatic phrases or sets of expressions have been translated word by word.

'It goes without saying' (English) tranlated from 'ça va sans dire' (French)

In this example, ça = it, va = goes, sans = without, dire = saying

'schau stehlen' (German) translated from 'steal the show' (English)

  • Syntactic calque: Syntactic or structural calque is the product of an inexact connection between the elements of a sentence or phrase.

in order to = en orden a (instead of ''para'') from French to English.

to find guilty = encontrar culpable (instead of ''declarar culpable'') from Spanish to English.

Here, a third language is made which could be called 'Spanglish'.

  • Semantic calque: Additional meanings of the words in the source language are transferred to the word in the target language, with the same primary meaning.

Biergarten (German) = beer garden (English)

Here, the concept of 'beer garden' is derived from German language.

Computer mouse (English) = souris (French)

Hot dog (English) = perros calientes (Spanish)

Gratte-Ciel (French) = scrape-sky (English)

Marché aux puces (French) = flea market (English)

  • Phonological calque: When the pronunciation of a word is imitated in the other language.

radar (English) = léidá (similar-sounding Chinese word)

Here, this word literally means "to arrive (as fast) as thunder"

teflon (English) = Tiě lóng (similar-sounding Chinese word)

  • Typographic calque: When typographical rules in the source language are transferred to the new language. For example, the rule of capital letters in English has started to enter into Spanish, as well as the use of italics for emphasis and certain uses of quotation marks.

She was just talking to her.

Here, we must use italics for emphasis.

My favorite magazine is New York Times.

As you can see, the name of newspapers and magazines must be written down in italics.


Loading recaptcha

You might also like

Word Formation Processes

In linguistics, there are many ways for creating a new word. In this lesson, we will get to know all the word-formation processes in the English language.

Compounding and Blending

The act of making a new word using an old one is called derivation in English. And Compounding is creating words by combining two or more words. Let's learn!


Affixes are like codes in a code language. With their help, you can decode the words in a language. Let's take a closer look at these codes!


Prefixes are a group of letters that are placed at the beginning of the base of a word to changes its meaning and/or parts of speech.


Suffixes are particles with separate meanings placed at the end of a root or a stem. Adding them to our words defines the final meaning of the whole term.


Abbreviations are shortened forms of words or phrases. They normally represent a whole sentence or phrase. Ready to learn them?

download langeek app for free