Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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Neologica is an international journal on neology, which is in its sixth volume. This volume is divided in three parts, entitled “Néologie et traduction spécialisée”, “Varia” and “Rubriques”.
The introduction, “Présentation”, by John Humbley, co-founder of the journal, explains that most articles were presented at the event entitled “Néologie et traduction spécialisée” [neology and specialized translation], which happened on April 29th, 2011, in Brussels. Humbley then continues giving a brief description of each article in the thematic part and of the articles in the Varia part.
The first article of the thematic part is written in English: “Defining neology to meet the needs of the translator: a corpus-based perspective”, by Antoinette Renouf. After reviewing previous research on English neology and describing the translator’s needs, the author describes her own research project for identifying neologisms in a corpus. The third and most important part of the paper is dedicated to showing how a corpus-based approach can help the translator to solve some practical problems of neology.
The second article, by Marita Kristiansen and Gisle Andersen, is entitled “Corpus approaches to neology and their relevance for dynamic domains”. The authors describe two case studies based on the Norwegian Newspaper Corpus: on finance neologisms and on terminology for information and communication technology. In the first case, the authors show how the corpus is explored to find term variants; they also compare the neologisms of the corpus to neologisms found in more specialized texts. In the second case, the corpus is used in a project of normative terminology, to find the most accepted forms, for instance. The authors conclude that corpus-based methodologies are of great relevance “for monitoring the development of neologisms and for extracting terminology” (p. 59).
The third article has an ambitious title: “Towards a new approach to the study of neology”. By Maria Teresa Cabré and Rogelio Nazar, it proposes a statistics-based methodology for the detection of neologisms, including polylexical and semantic neologisms, which are particularly difficult to detect using computational methods. The authors’ main method is to define a statistical pattern for the behavior of the “ideal neologism” and then look in the corpus for words (both monolexical and polylexical) that follow that pattern. In the case of semantic neology, their method is to find the patterns of co-occurring words: two or more groups of co-occurring words may signal different meanings. The authors exemplify both methods and conclude that statistical analysis of corpora is an important methodology to be followed by neology studies.
The next paper, by Pascaline Dury, is written in French: “Le sentiment d’un besoin néologique chez l’expert pour remplacer un terme à connotation pejorative” (The specialist’s feeling of a neological need to replace a term with pejorative connotation). The author begins with a discussion of the connotation of specialized vocabulary and then brings a great deal of data, extracted from medical papers, that show how the specialists express their feelings that a term must be replaced. The author finishes with a reflection on the reasons why a specialist may wish to replace a term and on how this replacement term is accepted by the community.
The next contribution, written in Spanish, is entitled “El papel de la traducción en la formación secundaria de términos sintagmáticos” (The role of translation in the secondary formation of syntagmatic terms), by Joaquín García Palacios and Lara Sanz Vicente. The authors begin by showing how translation procedures (from English to Spanish in particular) are important in the formation of syntagmatic terms; they then present some reflections on calques and on the importance of autochthonous word formation procedures, and conclude by presenting an approach to term formation planning that takes into consideration the position of English and Spanish in scientific production. Their approach tries to avoid purist ideas, focusing on the search for the best ways of adapting English terms.
Written in French, the text “Néologie d’origine, néologie de transfert: le cas des néologismes dans le domaine de la psychanalyse et leur traduction en espagnol” (Neology of origin, neology of transfer: the case of psychoanalysis neologisms and their Spanish translation), by Ana María Gentile, analyses the neologisms created by Freud and Lacan. The author begins by presenting Freud’s semantic neologisms, which he borrowed from other disciplines (medicine, biology, economy, religion, etc.). She then describes Lacan’s style, which relied heavily on word-formation and wordplay in general. The last part of the article is dedicated to a discussion of some problems of translating both psychoanalysts’ texts into Spanish.
The next article, by Jean Quirion, is entitled “Néologie traductive, néologie aménagiste et néologie collaborative massive: l’unité dans la disparité” (Translation neology, planning neology and massive collaboration neology: unity in disparity). The article begins by defining and distinguishing “néologie traductive” (translation neology) and “néologie aménagiste” (planning neology). The author brings some examples of the needs for neology, especially in minority languages, and then presents a quantitative method (“terminométrie”) that measures the usage rate of a minority language in naming a specific concept; examples are given for Canadian French. In the last part of the paper, the author brings to attention the very recent and interesting concept of “néologie collaborative massive” (massive collaborative neology), the creation of neologisms in the context of online collaborative writing (like Wikipedia). This kind of neology undoubtedly has a great potential in the context of minority languages and is yet to be fully understood.
The article by Reuben Seychell, “Neologising -- a case study on Maltese”, focuses on term creation in Maltese. The author describes the legal necessities of term creation in the context of the European Union and the methods and criteria employed by the translation department of an EU institution regarding the Maltese language. The text relies heavily on concepts of Philosophy of Language, like Derrida’s deconstruction.
The last article of the thematic part, by Nathalie Lemaire and Paul Muraille, is entitled “Sigles graphiques en langue de spécialité: typologie, variabilité, enjeux” (Graphic acronyms in specialized language: typology, variability, issues). A “sigle graphique” is defined as an acronym bearing a case alternation or non-alphabetic symbols (like numbers or special characters). The authors present a very detailed typology of French and English acronyms and analyze a sample of graphic acronyms from the domain of genetics, in order to describe acronym variability. They conclude that the huge variability may cause problems to the non-specialist, and suggest that normalization efforts and the treatment of these acronyms by electronic tools may help minimize ambiguities.
The last two articles form the “Varia” part. The first one, by Charlotte Coy, is entitled “Les recommandations officielles des commissions de terminologie et leur rapport à la langue commune” (The official recommendations of terminology commissions and their relations to the general language). The paper intends to measure the degree of success of the terms that were recommended by the French terminology commissions by analyzing their presence in general-purpose dictionaries after five years (2005-2010). Employing a method that emphasizes lexical motivation, the author presents graphics that form a lexicological profile of the data and compares this profile to the profiles described in other studies. She concludes that the terminological data differ from the other parts of the lexicon with respect to lexical motivations.
The last paper of the volume, “Maux et mots ou la dénomination des maladies” (Illnesses and words or the naming of diseases), by Pascaline Faure, studies the names of diseases and syndromes in a comparative perspective. The study presents many denomination tendencies: Greco-Latin names, names derived from other languages, metaphorical names, names that carry historical references, culturally marked names, eponyms and, more recently, names based on toponyms, names based on etiology and names that try to describe the disease with exactitude. The paper, richly exemplified, concludes that the progressive abandonment of eponyms and metaphors may reflect a contemporary tendency to “dehumanize” medicine, giving it a more scientific aspect.
At the end of the volume, “Actualités de la néologie” (Neology news) presents past and future events on neology, as well as reviews of theses. “Bibliographie de la néologie” (Bibliography on neology) presents descriptions of recent publications on neology. There is also a small review of Alain Rey’s “La langue sous le joug” (Language under the yoke), by Jean-François Sablayrolles and the abstracts of all the volume’s contributions.
The field of Neology is very broad, touching on many other subfields of Linguistics, such as Lexicology, Lexical Semantics, Morphology and Historical Linguistics; it is also especially relevant for translation studies, language planning, dictionary-making and specialized language (Terminology) studies. As such, it is of great importance that an international publication on this subject exists, albeit created only recently.
This specific volume will be of particular interest to linguists working on specialized translation and on language planning, topics that are covered in most articles. Theoretical issues are less emphasized, although there are important contributions, like Cabré and Nazar’s.
The predominance of papers written in French is representative of the importance of French-speaking linguists in the field of Neology; even the English-language contributions were written by non-native speakers. It is hoped that these articles may contribute to the development of the field in English-speaking countries.
There are some aspects of specific papers that are worth noting. In the first article, by Renouf, although the author’s argumentation is fully convincing, the reader may feel the lack of a discussion on how to find equivalents in a corpus. In the paper on psychoanalysis neologisms, by Ana María Gentile, the reader does not find a clear explanation of the concepts of “néologie d’origine” and “néologie de transfert”, employed in the title and throughout the text. Finally, there is a minor mistake in the last paper of the volume, by Faure: the author says that leprosy (FR lèpre) is named after the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae; in fact, it is the bacterium that is named after the disease, which was known by humanity for millennia before the bacterium was discovered (cf. articles “Leprosy” and “Mycobacterium leprae” in Wikipedia).
Neology as a whole covers many more topics than are covered in this specific volume; this is of course due to the fact that most texts are from the colloquium “Néologie et traduction spécialisée”, as already mentioned. For instance, topics like word formation are not covered. Nevertheless, this volume (and the journal as a whole) represents an important contribution to the important but sometimes neglected field of Neology.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Bruno O. Maroneze completed his Ph.D. in the University of Sao Paulo in 2011. His Ph.D. thesis focuses on Brazilian Portuguese neologisms formed by suffixation. His main research interests are on the semantics of word formation and, especially, the study of neologisms. He is currently teaching in the Faculty of Communication, Arts and Letters of the Universidade Federal da Grande Dourados, MS, Brazil.