Loanwords and new technologies

Loanwords may be the solution: Keeping constantly updated before the unstoppable development of new technologies is not an easy task. Languages need to find solutions for the technical terms that come with development. This is one of the major linguistic challenges today: the introduction of foreign words.

Words from another language that are adopted without any changes, like hacker in Spanish. In the creation of neologisms, languages seek their own alternatives or ones adapted to their spelling —loanwords—. In any case, accepting neologisms is a difficult process that requires speakers’ awareness, and that can’t always be achieved, especially in the case of technology terminology.

How Spanish manages loadwords?

In the case of the Spanish language, the Spanish Royal Academy (RAE, in Spanish) is the one in charge of creating neologisms. The Academy prefers to translate technical terms and create terms that are specific to the Spanish language.

However, sometimes the only thing you can aspire to is to create loanwords and adapt their spelling. Maybe not even that. The words software and hardware are good examples, as they have no translation into Spanish. In these cases, the aim is to adapt the term to Spanish pronunciation —as is the case of the word airbag, for which the RAE proposes the pronunciation [airbág]—.

The influence of English in loanwords

The acceptance of neologisms only happens in some cases, like the translation of e-mail for “electronic mail.” It is a pity the proposal to translate e-mail for “emilio” didn’t work out —it would have been quite funny—.

The problem is that today,  English is so influential that speakers almost always use the English word.  To the —extreme— point where it’s almost fashionable to throw in some English words while speaking in Spanish, which is why the number of foreign words and loanwords increases day by day. In addition, in technical fields, and especially in computer science, the use of foreign words is a very common practice.

Foreign words and translation

We could debate about whether it is good that there are foreign terms in a language or whether an adapted neologism that constitutes a Spanish word should be created in every case, but we could be talking about this for ever. What we will say is that languages are constantly evolving, and technology terminology is one of the main reasons why there are so many loanwords and foreign words. 

There will always be words of difficult or even dubious translation. And it is our duty to always be aware of the latest linguistic developments in the field.

Thus, technology professionals will be able to delegate the responsibility of choosing the correct technical term to our expert translators. Ontranslation is here to worry about these tendencies.

About the author

Oscar Nogueras

Es el CEO de Ontranslation y dedica algunos ratos libres a escribir en este blog para compartir sus conocimientos sobre internacionalización, cross-border ecommerce y Traducción SEO. No es para menos, ya que entre su formación cuenta con una licenciatura en filología inglesa, un máster en tradumática, un posgrado en elearning y un MBA. En definitiva, una declaración de intenciones donde la cultura y los idiomas se sirven mezclados, no agitados.

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