Friday, February 10, 2006

God From The Machine

A calque is an expression introduced into one language by translating it from another language. For example, "'superman' is a calque for the German '√úbermensch'".

An interesting calque that I came across recently was "deus ex machina" meaning "god from the machine". For the trivially inclined, it is a calque from Greek to Latin! It refers to the use of supernatural plot elements in works of art to explain things or solve seemingly unsolvable problems.

We have all seen and experienced this in Hindi movies where towards the climax, when the helpless widow is with the villain..and the situation is hopeless.... the wind starts blowing all of sudden and prayer-bells start ringing and suddenly the villain is knocked down... as a result of the lady-in-distress's or her child's praying in a temple!

That's deus ex machina in play.

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