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Re: Technical terminology

From:Douglas Koller, Latin & French <latinfrench@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 8, 2003, 20:40
M. Astrand writes:

> >From: Terrence Donnelly > > >>Then I got to wondering if Vietnamese even has higher >>math terms. After all, a phrase like "n factorial", >>although composed of English words, doesn't mean >>anything to a native speaker either until it's >>explained to them. It doesn't seem like there'd be >>any inherent advantage in translating into your native >>language a term whose meaning isn't obvious in >>anybody's native language. >> > >I can think of one advantage. Even though the term's meaning may not >be *immeadiately >obvious* in a language, it may be logical when explained, and that makes >it a lot easier to remember and understand later. > >Besides, I suspect I've noticed that when some people of my age (teenagers) >see a Latin or Greek term, they'll conclude right away that the subject must >be difficult and then won't even try to understand it. I don't think native >terms would have the same "scientific -> incomprehensible" effect.
Let's not exclude socio-economic, cultural factors. "LSD", a term which I think many if not most Americans would at least recognize translates into Chinese as a long string of characters (basically, "lysergic acid diethylamide", which would probably also elude native English speakers). The 'street' term for "acid" in Chinese, "hallucinogenic drug", or "hallucinogenic acid", I imagine, would be equally impenetratable to those outside the drug scene, while "drop acid" is easily comprehensible to my parents, though none of them have participated in drug culture. "n factorial" is not a term I'm readily familiar with, but I recognize it as something vaguely mathematical; I would imagine that whatever the Chinese equivalent is, it would require a great deal of explaining and would still elicit blank stares from the masses. The examples abound. I can imagine a sentence like "He killed himself through carbon monoxide poisoning.", which might take American speakers visually to a running car and a closed garage, would fall flat on a lot of Chinese ears. Usw. Kou