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Anglické jazykové okienko

Pridané: 14.2.2018
Kategória: 02/2018

Tricky Words in this week‘s OVI

Subsidiary company. This is the proper, normal, standard translation of dcérska spoločnosť, whether we're talking American or British English. Literally subsidiary means podporný, but it's an example of corporate or commercial jargon, so it reveals different ways of thinking in different languages. The idea that companies are related as if in a family appears in English in the expression parent company, which is feminized in Slovak as materská spoločnosť. The Slovak dcérska spoločnosť is a calque, a word-for-word equivalent for example of the German Tochtergesellschaft or the Danish datterselskab, but this doesn't normally extend into English – only in cases where English speakers are in daily contact with Slovak (or German or Danish) people who keep on using the literal translation, and in the end they pick it up like an infection and start using it themselves.


Languages are not mathematics. The definitions of words change over time as different people use them. Compare words with mathematical terms, whose definitions need to be reliably constant in the long term. Take the definition and value of pi (π) for instance: it is a constant expressing the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, and the typical value we know (3.14159) was set by Archimedes of Syracuse in the year 250 BC or thereabouts, and it hasn't changed since then no matter how many different people have used it. Words however develop new meanings with use, even by native speakers in their home countries, especially through slang. Sometimes they take on the opposite meaning from the original, like wicked /vikid/, which normally means zlý, zlomyseľný, škodlivý, but which young people in Britain use in the sense of neuveriteľne dobrý.



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