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Matinee Blog

Laws of Translation

The Laws of Translation and Stealing Words

Lexicographer, Erin McKean gave a short and fun presentation at a TedYouth conference that caught our attention. Not only has it inspired us to get creative and make up some fabulous new words like ‘voicitles’ – a blend of voice-over and subtitles. We have also learned a few interesting things about where some words we use today have derived from and the laws the we unknowingly apply.

Erin cleverly points out six ways that we can create new words and it’s definitely worth a try.

So here is a breakdown on Erin’s advice on how to create new words:

  • Steal words from other languages; did you know ‘Theatre’ was taken from the Greek language?
  • Compounding; putting two words together like sand and castle.
  • Blending words; similar to compounding but dropping some letters e.g.Brunch.
  • Functional shift; changing their usage like changing words into verbs or adjectives.
  • Back formation; Creating a new term by ‘squishing it down’ e.g. bulldoze derived from bulldozer.
  • Acronyms; TBH OMG, I know right!

Every language is just a group of people who agree to understand each other

We couldn’t agree more Erin, language is fluid and continuously evolving and that’s a main factor that makes it so intriguing. However, artificial translators are catching up on human translators and becoming increasingly more intelligent. Is it only a matter of time before technology replace human when it comes to translating languages?

What words would you create? What are your thoughts on artificial translators? Let us know by Tweeting or Facebook-ing us 🙂