Linguists interchangeably use the word calque and the phrase loan translation to mean ‘the carrying over of a word from one language to another by translating each of the semantic components of the original.’ We can see the results of that process by starting with adrenalina/adrenaline, which the previous post explained is a compound created in the late 1800s from two Latin roots. If we replace the Latin elements with the corresponding ones from Greek, we get epinefrina/epinephrine, a synonymous term that appeared less than a decade after its Latin-based counterpart.

We recognize Greek nephros ‘kidney’ in other technical terms like nefritis/nephritis ‘an inflammation of a kidney’ and nefrólogo/nephrologist ‘a doctor who specializes in treating ailments of the kidneys.’ A nefrona or nefrón/nephron is ‘an individual filtering unit of [the many that make up] the kidney of a vertebrate.’ Although some swimming pools are described as being kidney-shaped, it’s doubtful that anyone has called them nephroid, an English adjective that happens to mean ‘kidney-shaped.’ Mathematicians have used nefroide/nephroid as the name of ‘a curve traced by a point on a circle that rolls (without slipping) around another circle with a radius twice as large.’ Those who would like to see the definition acted out can go to a dynamic demonstration.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

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If you encounter an unfamiliar technical term in any of these postings, check the Glossary in the bar across the top of the page.
©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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