Byens rørsystemer: Når teknikere bygger de samme ting på forskellige sprog

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    It can be argued (see Madsen & Thomsen, this volume) that people who share the same mother tongue may nevertheless “speak diffeent languages” in the sense that they will use fundamentally different vocabularies when dealing with otherwise similar fragments of extra-linguistic reality because they address them for different purposes and on the background of different sorts of knowledge. It seems relevant to ask, therefore, if the reverse may also be true. Will people with different mother tongues “speak the same language” when they deal with similar aspects of reality for similar purposes and draw on similar sorts of knowledge – be it stamp collection, yoga or water engineering? The words are bound to look and sound quite different, of course, but does that pose any serious challenges to mutual understanding if they can still replace each other in a 1:1 fashion (say, with the help of Google Translate)? To contribute to this discussion, the present article presents selected results from a comparative investigation of Danish and Russian conceptual structures and terminology in the field of public water supply systems, a domain which displays many similarities throughout the industrialized world. The findings indicate that, at least if we take a functional rather than, say, an administrative or commercial viewpoint, the terms are as good as fully compatible in terms of what is put into words, and according to which criteria. However, they display profound and seemingly systematic differences as to how the expression-units have been formed. Moreover, the latter differences seem to be consistent with Durst-Andersen’s (2011a; 2011b) description of Danish as a hearer-oriented language and Russian as a reality-oriented language. The implications of this for the idea of linguistic world-views and for the communication of professionals across national and linguistic borders are discussed.
    Original languageDanish
    JournalGlobe: A Journal of Language, Culture and Communication
    Issue numberSpecial Issues 1
    Pages (from-to)37-56
    Number of pages20
    Publication statusPublished - May 2016


    • Lexicalization
    • Word formation
    • Linguistic world-views
    • Terminology management
    • Danish
    • Russian

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