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What decides if a word is changed when originally translating a language, or if the characteristics (spelling/pronunciation/definition) stay the same?

asked 2019-03-19 18:18:29 -0500

aktrouy gravatar image

I was discussing with my sister about the French word "rendezvous", and whether it was both an English and a French word with French origin, or if it was just a French word that English speakers use without it being a part of our (English) language officially. A quick dictionary search proved that it belongs to both the French and the English dictionary, which ended that discussion, but opened a new one: What decides if a word is to be directly transferred (while holding all the same characteristics such as spelling/pronunciation/definition) from one language to another, or if there is to be a word constructed that holds the same meaning for the word from the foreign language? I believed that it was whether or not there was a word that contained the same exact meaning as the one being translated at the time of translation, but I am not 100% sure about this. Also, I used a few direct translation tools for "rendezvous, and found that the direct meaning for it in English is "appointment", however in the French diction it is more specifically "a meeting of military or armed forces at a particular time/place". This does nothing to cement my thoughts on the matter, and any help would be appreciated.

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answered 2019-04-07 12:22:05 -0500

Gerard Cheshire gravatar image

When words such as 'rendezvous' are appropriated by the English language it is because there is no English equivalent, otherwise their would be no point. So, it is ironic that an English dictionary should then define the word as 'appointment', when the French definition is clearly correct. The words rendezvous is itself a portmanteau of 'rendez' (arrange) 'vous' (you): i.e. you arrange to meet.

As for rules, there are none. Some appropriated word spellings remain the same, as with rendezvous, whilst others alter over time. The point is that language evolves. For example, there is a gemstone known in English as 'blue john', which is an evolved misappropriation of the French 'bleu jaune', as the gem is both blue and yellow. Clearly, ignorance of French led to the evolved English corruption.

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Asked: 2019-03-19 18:18:29 -0500

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Last updated: Apr 07