In a social media translators’ group, a colleague was bemoaning the proliferation of calque, words borrowed from another language and used in your language. Why? Borrowing and lending words from different languages can only enrich, right? Well, the complaint is that the words mean something different than in the original language. Examples included handy (mobile phone in German), beamer (projector in Dutch and not the affectionate term for a BMW car that native UK translators immediately think of), box – meaning speaker or playpen in Dutch and a rather gruesome bodybag, being used in German to describe a cross-body handbag (and not a bum bag which in US English is a fanny bag and that makes UK natives giggle!) rather than the one used to transport dead bodies.

Home office describing working from home in German and Czech, not the UK government department that immediately springs to mind for an English translator and mobbing in German, used to mean bullying rather than converging in a mob as originally intended.

One exasperated French translator lamented the now chronic use of disrupter and impacter, where English verbs have been given a French verb ending and in Dutch, I come across the verb ‘tweaken’ quite a lot, as in ‘kun je deze tekst even tweaken?’. 🤷‍♀️