In etymology, a calque is a word or phrase that is directly translated from one language to another. For example, the phrase "flea market" uses English words that directly translate from the French phrase marché aux puces. Meanwhile, a loanword in linguistics is a term taken from another language with no attempt at translation and minimal to no modification, For example, we use the phrase faux pas, which is a loanword from French. Anyway, the reason I'm boring you with this linguistic jargon is to introduce a mind-blowing fact: the word calque is a loanword, and the word loanword is a calque! Let's break it down. Calque was loaned from French calque, which meant "a copy". This comes from the verb calquer, which meant "to trace", which comes from Italian calcare ("limestone"; the connection was tracing veins of rock). This is from Latin calcare, or "to press" (because rocks are pressed), which is from calx, meaning "heel" (you can press with your heel), from a Pre-Greek word meaning "pebble". Now, onto loanword! It's a calque of the German phrase lehnwort, which was translated directly into English. These terms are pretty boring on both sides and go back to Proto-Germanic and PIE. I thought that switch was pretty whimsical.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd