Frank (thesparque) wrote in linguaphiles,
Frank
thesparque
linguaphiles

Interlanguage transplants

One of my favorite things about working with so many people who are bilingual (English and Spanish) like myself is taking note of the phrases and constructions that end up getting translated from one language into the other. Even though a native speaker of said language might raise an eyebrow at it or even call it incorrect, they often work on a literal level, though I imagine they make more sense to a person who knows where it came from. This seems to happen most often with things that are simply easier to say, or at least shorter and simpler in one language than the other.

An example in each direction:

1. The standard way to speak about "calling someone back" on the phone in Spanish is "regresarle/devolverle la llamada a alguien," or literally "to return someone's call." But I notice a lot of people, many of them native Spanish speakers, say "llamar para atrás," which is a literal translation of "to call back," although in formal Spanish it sounds more like "call towards the back," as in a room or something. It's a pretty widespread phenomenon, although I don't know how far back it goes.

2. Often in Spanish, you can make a suggestion and simply say "mejor" before or at the end to indicate that it's a better idea than something else that was suggested. You can say "better yet" at the beginning of a sentence in English to indicate the same thing, but as a specific example, I was watching a video on YouTube and the info said "Watch it in HQ better." Literally translated to Spanish it sounds perfectly natural: "Míralo en HQ mejor," a suggestion that the video will look better in high quality. This is even something that I've caught myself doing occasionally. Rather than saying, "It'd be better if you did X" or "Maybe you should do X instead," I'll accidentally say, "Maybe do X better."

What I'm interested in are any other examples anyone might have of phenomena like this, where you take a phrase from one language you know into the other, even if it doesn't immediately fit the logic of the language. Anyone?
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