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A learner's error of translation:

Hand me the pincers. (for pliers)

Is this an error of morphology; or is it, as I think, a neologism, in that the learner substitutes a term he already knows for the correct word in the vocabulary.

Am I correct or totally wrong?

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closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, MετάEd, waiwai933 Jan 25 '13 at 3:26

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Context please! Link? Surrounding dialog? Where did you hear this? –  Mitch Dec 27 '12 at 18:59
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And did you look up pincers and pliers just to check whether you were correct or not? If so, where; and what did you find? –  Andrew Leach Dec 27 '12 at 19:06

2 Answers 2

The mistake here is neither morphological nor neologistic; it is lexical.

Morphology denotes the changes of form of which a word is grammar required to undergo in order to make it agree with a specific context. Me for I when the word is used as indirect object is a morphological change; if the translator had written Hand I the pincers the error would be morphological.

Neologism is, literally, the process of building or inventing new words, but it is more often used to designate a word so invented. Sometimes the term is used in a neutral sense to describe the historic origin of a word: “Oxygen is a neologism created in 1777 by the French chemist Lavoisier from Greek oxys and French gène, itself derived from a Greek word." More often the term is used in a deprecating sense: “This term [electrocution], descriptive of the method of Inflicting the death penalty on convicted criminals in some of the states, is a vulgar neologism of hybrid origin, which should be discountenanced.” The translator has not invented a new word — both pincers and pliers have been around for a long time.

What the translator has done, you tell us, is simply chosen the wrong word from the English vocabulary or lexicon.

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It's nothing so complex as that. Pincers are a different tool than pliers. Either you are mistaken in your assessment of what the tool is, or the speaker is unaware of the difference.

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Pincers and Pliers are two separate tools shaped differently but function in similar ways. The title of the tool was confused in translation in their sentence structure. –  leapnfroger Dec 27 '12 at 19:27
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Who is 'their'? What was the full translation? The source? –  Mitch Dec 27 '12 at 22:07

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