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I am trying to translate new words in English into Chinese.

Say we have some new words in English that have never been translated.

Ga (gah) = To walk upside down
Ba (bah) = Half unicorn half flamingo
Ti (tee) = To fly underneath a bridge

How would we go about translating these into Chinese? I can, of course, find the corresponding terms in Chinese and string them together. Like [WALK][DOWN] or [UNICORN][FLAMINGO], etc. But can I instead do a direct translation so the sound is the same in both languages? That is, "Ga" in Chinese (pinyin) directly? How, then, do I create a character or word corresponding to the Pinyin sound?

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  • I believe these are called loan words. E.g. (bā) means "bar" and 咖啡 (kāfēi) means "coffee".
    – Becky 李蓓
    Jan 3 '20 at 7:40
  • Chinese tends to use calques and invent neologisms instead of transliterating with pinyin. This is very common when translating new words from modern science.
    – ltux
    Jan 3 '20 at 7:57
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But can I instead do a direct translation so the sound is the same in both languages? That is, "Ga" in Chinese (pinyin) directly? How, then, do I create a character or word corresponding to the Pinyin sound?

No, you cannot. Words and characters can be invented, but it will take time for people to broadly use them and include them into their vocabulary. And only then are they absorbed into the language. If no one accept your invention, then it's meaningless.

Now consider:

Say we have some new words in Germany that have never been translated.

Ga = To walk upside down

Ba = Half unicorn half flamingo

Ti = To fly underneath a bridge

How would we go about translating these into English? I can, of course, find the corresponding terms in English and string them together. Like [WALK][DOWN] or [UNICORN][FLAMINGO], etc. But can I instead do a direct translation so the sound is the same in both languages? That is, "Gah" in English directly? How, then, do I create a word?

I think it's quite obvious now. You didn't translate it, you just invented a new thing somehow following the rules in that language. But it means nothing, no one, except those who have read your works, will understand it. Of course, if you just intend to get it across merely to your target readers (Even in this case you should explain its meaning for once), you are fine to go. Or if your masterpiece is so popular and famous that everyone feels shame if he hasn't read it, for example, 鲁迅 just coined a character 猹 (it is non-exiatent before) referring to a kind of animals local to his hometown, and it's nothing other than pronounced as what the villagers call that animal. But today everyone knows it and accepts it as part of our language, so it's included in unicode encoding. That is a great example to your question.

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