I'm working on improving my English to apply to the official translator title and I'm currently studying the concept of "Calco" Which means words that has meaning in English but when translating to Spanish those do not work the same and are badly translated. An example is the word "Name" (v) in English, you can translate it as Nombrar, however, this is bad and the real word is "designar". So my question goes by this.

In this context, what could be the meaning for a "major theme", is the same as If I say, the main, the principal?

major themes.

Does anybody got a "calcos" or misunderstood words in english?

Thank you very much.

  • 1
    Could you explain more clearly what you are looking for. Is it the concept of similar words in two languages that don't translate well into one another. Or is it some specific word?
    – S Conroy
    Aug 6, 2018 at 22:07
  • You may be thinking of a thesis.
    – Bread
    Aug 6, 2018 at 22:37
  • It is unclear exactly what you want here. Do you want the word or term in English that corresponds to a similar sounding word that has a very different meaning in the other language? Or is it a direct loan of the word in one language to another? Or do you want examples of these kinds of words? If the first, the @SConroy has the answer (if undeleted). If the second, then it's actually 'loan translation' which is a word directly borrowed (with no changes at all and meaning mostly the same thing). A 'calque'(cognate with 'calcos'), is a loan translation.
    – Mitch
    Aug 6, 2018 at 23:28
  • But if you're looking for examples between English and Spanish, then ELU is not the place (it is very monolingual in subject). I'd suggest searching for 'calcos'.
    – Mitch
    Aug 6, 2018 at 23:29

1 Answer 1


The English equivalent of calco is calque. Both come from the Latin calcarius, which refers to lime and (by extension) a variety of casting and molding techniques common to those days.

If you are translating between English and (say) Spanish, calques go both ways, and in many cases are completely acceptable, e.g. in the same way that armada has passed into English.

Major theme, main theme and principal theme are equivalent. They all have Latin roots: major, manus (hand), and principalis, and although an expression in English may be similar to an expression in Spanish, a direct calque between the two languages is not the only possible explanation.

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