Loan translation

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Types of borrowing according to Werner Betz (1959)

With Lehnübersetzung a composite is word denotes that after a foreign word was formed by individually both or all components of the foreign word in a different language translated were. If only part of the original word is literally translated, this is also known as a loan transfer .

The term and other Betz loanword terminology is mainly used in German studies , German-language Romance studies and Slavic studies .


The words grandmother and grandfather were literally translated from French grand-mère and grand-père . Other loan translations are floodlit ( English floodlight ) and data processing (English data processing ).

Also to be mentioned is the term "credit card" used in German-speaking countries, translated one-to-one from "credit card". Another example is English skyscraper - in French literally translated as gratte-ciel (loan translation), in German half literally translated as skyscraper (loan transfer).


Deliberate loan translations and loan transfers are ways of enriching a language without introducing foreign words that are recognizable as foreign words or usually incomprehensible when first heard.

There are also unconscious loan translations such as not really (=  English not really) for “actually not”. The latter is often cited as an example of a bad translation, because in the German language “not really” is mostly used in the sense of “almost not at all” or “only to a limited extent”. Language critics such as Wolf Schneider or Bastian Sick particularly criticize this loan translation in their publications. Schneider calls this expression an example of a "spread Anglicism ".


  • E. Back: The nature and value of loan translation, dissertation, University of Giessen 1935.
  • Friedrich Maurer , Heinz Rupp (Hrsg.): Deutsche Wortgeschichte ,. 3. Edition. Berlin 1974, pp. 135-163.
  • Werner Betz : German and Latin: The loan formations of the Old High German Benedictine rule. Bonn: H. Bouvier u. Co., 1949.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: loan translation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gerhard Rohlfs : Romanic loan translations on a Germanic basis (Materia romana, spirito germanico), Munich 1984 (= meeting reports of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences: philosophical-historical class), 1983/4.