Translate neologisms, yes or no?

If we say that the language is something alive that it enriches virtually on a daily basis due to the use of new technologies and the globalization we do not discover anything new.However, the influx of neologisms in a language can pose a serious problem for translators juriesand complicate the thoroughness of his work. It is necessary to translate them or is preferable to adapt them? Affect the exact meaning of an official document for a term that may not be well understood by all? In our translation blog we try to give you some small keys.

A neologism is, according to the dictionary of the Royal Academy of the language (DRAE), “a Word, meaning, or new in a language”. It is necessary to distinguish it from status (“loan, specially adapted not”) and technicality (“each of the voices techniques employed in the language of an art, a science, a trade, etc.”), although we could say that the three they are closely linked together.

The use of a single language globally in marketing and advertising and the predominance of English have caused that a proportion of the society, especially the younger age group, does not have any interest in seeking an equivalence in Spanish for concepts from English as webinar (talk or virtual conference), spoiler (the Act of ‘gutting’ finish a film, book or series) or car sharing (use car-sharing).

On many occasions, there is a precise term that reproduces what foreign Word wants to be called, although institutions such as the RAE and Fundéu always strive to find an equivalent in Spanish when the use of a term is generalized enough and endures over time. It is the case of selfi (the recommendation to use ‘self-portrait’ did not succeed) or click (the action activate a tool by pressing the mouse – the original ‘mouse’ – of the computer).

What to do with neologisms in a sworn translation?

Appearing new words in everyday language is a natural phenomenon to which we are accustomed. But, do we can interpret these terms in a specialized translation (legal, medical, technical, etc.) or, what is even more complicated, in a sworn translation? The recommendation is to use the Spanish translation that exists and has already been accepted by the SAR. Alternatively, you can apply the label “translation”, or what is the same thing, a cultural equivalent with a next to the original term.

There are translators who directly opt to keep the neologism, but with two different behaviors. You can leave the original Word and then the term explain what means in a nutshell, although this harms the fluency of the translation. And the other option is the keep a status without any explanation and with the confidence that the receiver terminated by assimilating their meaning, something that happens often in the products and services of the financial language or marketing.

A last option is to make a ‘tracing’ or a literal translation of some terms, such as the aforementioned ‘mouse’, ‘Tablet’ (tablet) or ‘skyscraper’ (skycrapper).

A dangerous trend that increasingly proliferates more is simply add a suffix in English to a Spanish word to create a figurative action and that it would not exact translation, as in the case of ‘balconing’.

Neologisms in official documents

As we have mentioned, the appearance of words which are not fully implemented in our everyday language is a problem that grows when we speak of sworn translations or official documents. In these cases, is it really necessary to use neologisms? Sometimes, whether we like it or not, is inevitable.

The good news is that in legal language, for example, most of those used are called ‘desinenciales’ neologisms, words of the same family that form as derived from an original Word. In these cases, as ‘feminicide’ or ‘transgender’, for example, the reader can be interpreted easily meaning by the strength of the root.

In medicine a lot of neologisms are also used and, as denounced many professionals, ‘false friends’ (incorrect translations by equivalence between words from two different languages). It is common to find terms such as bypass (coronary artery surgery) or stent (small metal tube that expands into an artery) without that even contemplating the possibility of studying an equivalent in Spanish.