Bread and circuses

Recent letters to the editor refer to "bread and circuses," a phrase that refers to choosing short-term diversions over more important matters. It comes from the Latin phrase panem et circenses, and the English version is a literal translation.

Such loan translations are called "claques," which derived from a French word for "to trace," as in making a copy. English is full of calques. A "marriage of convenience" is a translation from French mariage de convenance. "Worldview" is a translation from German Weltanschauung. "Brainwashing" is a loan translation of a Chinese term.


This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.