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"have shown" versus "have been shown" Swe-Eng
Thread poster: Paoletrix
Paoletrix
Sweden
Local time: 17:00
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Jan 21, 2005

I'm translating a doctoral thesis (subject: international law and interpretation of treaties) from Swedish to British English. My client prefers the phrase "...rules have shown to be in conflict with one another" instead of "...rules have been shown to be in conflict with one another". I have already tried to avoid passive constructions, but my client really wants this somewhat diffuse expression, and I've understood that such expressions are de rigeur in international law literature - apparently, one doesn't want to be too specific (for example, by using "rules have proved to be in conflict"). We have a really great co-operation on this assignment, and I really want to get all the nuances right. However, the more I look at "have shown to be", the more uncertain I am that this is an ok translation of "har visat sig vara". I'd be grateful for some dialogue on this.

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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:00
English to Polish
+ ...
Ask a Kudoz question Jan 21, 2005

Either in the English monolingual (ENG>ENG) or in the SWE>EN pair.
The forums are used to discuss other issues and you seem to have a typical usage/ translation question.

HTH
Pawel Skalinski

[Edited at 2005-01-21 09:04]


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:00
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Link to KudoZ question form Jan 21, 2005

Just in case, here's the link to the form to be used for asking terminology/translation questions - http://www.proz.com/?sp=k2

Happy translating,

Steffen


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Paoletrix
Sweden
Local time: 17:00
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Responses to my forum posting Jan 21, 2005

Thanks for the mail. I'm new to Proz and thought my discussion might be more appropriate in the forum. I'll post the question on Kudoz.
Paoletrix wrote:

I'm translating a doctoral thesis (subject: international law and interpretation of treaties) from Swedish to British English. My client prefers the phrase "...rules have shown to be in conflict with one another" instead of "...rules have been shown to be in conflict with one another". I have already tried to avoid passive constructions, but my client really wants this somewhat diffuse expression, and I've understood that such expressions are de rigeur in international law literature - apparently, one doesn't want to be too specific (for example, by using "rules have proved to be in conflict"). We have a really great co-operation on this assignment, and I really want to get all the nuances right. However, the more I look at "have shown to be", the more uncertain I am that this is an ok translation of "har visat sig vara". I'd be grateful for some dialogue on this.


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Jonathan Spector  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 18:00
Member
Hebrew to English
appear Jan 21, 2005

I agree that your client's preference looks wrong. Why not sidestep the issue with the phrase: 'rules appear to be in conflict with one another'?

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Paoletrix
Sweden
Local time: 17:00
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, but have proposed "appear to be" Jan 21, 2005

Yes, I agree that "appear to be" is better in a general sense, but the nuance here is very important to the client. When I posted this in the forum, others suggested I post the question on Kudoz. There's more info on the discussion in my Kudoz post.

My first instinct is to avoid the passive, but I have learned that international law and the interpretation of treaties involve unbelievably subtle shades of meaning. Nevertheless, I will propose all the answers and forum posts I get here to my client, and we'll see what he says.
Thanks!
Jonathan Spector wrote:

I agree that your client's preference looks wrong. Why not sidestep the issue with the phrase: 'rules appear to be in conflict with one another'?


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hirselina
Local time: 17:00
Italian to Dutch
+ ...
Posting questions Jan 21, 2005

It's a pity you did not provide examples in Swedish! The best thing to do might be to ask a monolingual English grammar question to the experts in that field and another question about the translation of "visa sig vara" to Swedish-English translators.

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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:00
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Trust your judgement Jan 21, 2005

Trust your judgement on this. I don't know Swedish but I do know English. It really should be as you say: "...rules have been shown (by other experts) to be in conflict with one another." The other experts are the hidden subjects of the sentence - they are the ones doing the showing. You could turn it around and say: "Other experts have shown that the rules are in conflict with one another."

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Paoletrix
Sweden
Local time: 17:00
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agree - but the rules assume an existence of their own Jan 21, 2005

I wholly agree with you, Tina. However, "experts" - according to my client - implies that someone, somewhere can be questioned regarind the conflict. The rules of interpretation seem to assume a life of their own here - merely by being applied, conflict arises, without someone having to establish it.

Still, my ear and eye says "have been shown", which leaves enough distance for the client. I'll wait and decide tomorrow. Thanks!
Tina Vonhof wrote:

Trust your judgement on this. I don't know Swedish but I do know English. It really should be as you say: "...rules have been shown (by other experts) to be in conflict with one another." The other experts are the hidden subjects of the sentence - they are the ones doing the showing. You could turn it around and say: "Other experts have shown that the rules are in conflict with one another."





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ecuatraddesign
United States
Local time: 11:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Definitely not "have shown" Jan 22, 2005

To me, "rules have shown to be in conflict" just doesn't sound like good English, and to me at least, doesn't make much sense. I don't know Swedish so I have no idea what the original actually says.

International law documents tend to have very, very subtle shades of meaning, and this is almost always intentional, dare I say. I worked in an embassy as a translator, and we would spend hours basically trying to make things say the impossible and pushing the limits of what was acceptable in English.

If you say "have been shown", it begs the question "by whom?", which is exactly what the client may be trying to avoid. "appear to be in conflict", on the other hand, means something totally different. I think, actually, that if you say "rules have proven to be in conflict with one another", while it is more specific than the more abstract "shown", it means that the rules have proven themselves to be in conflict, or have revealed their conflicting nature, without an external actor actually doing it for them (they've accomplished it on their own).

I hope that made sense. In any case, I would put my foot down and reject the "have shown" option.

Let me know how it goes.


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Paoletrix
Sweden
Local time: 17:00
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agree - see the Kudoz posting for the same question Jan 22, 2005

Yes Pablo, I quite agree - I've already mentioned the idea of "by whom" and the vagaries of the language of international law. You can see this in the Kudoz posting for the same question.

I'm going to test the idea of "shown themselves" (see Marie Fauble's post on Kudoz) on my client, and I have already expressed my hesitation at using "have shown". "shown themselves" might be sufficiently open, and I'll feel okay from a grammatical point of view. While I'm not crazy about "have been shown", this might also be an acceptable compromise.

Meanwhile, I'm just highlighting it in the text until we make a decision (it turns up quite often), and I appreciate all the dialogue around this. It involves several issues at once: translation, grammar and usage, the very special language of international law, and the translator-client dialogue.

I'm glad to get an opinion from you, since you've worked with international law documents. It's clear you've understood exactly what I mean - both the difficulty of expressing ideas in such texts, and the concept of rules doing something on their own.

I'll keep you posted.

Pablo Ugalde wrote:

To me, "rules have shown to be in conflict" just doesn't sound like good English, and to me at least, doesn't make much sense. I don't know Swedish so I have no idea what the original actually says.

International law documents tend to have very, very subtle shades of meaning, and this is almost always intentional, dare I say. I worked in an embassy as a translator, and we would spend hours basically trying to make things say the impossible and pushing the limits of what was acceptable in English.

If you say "have been shown", it begs the question "by whom?", which is exactly what the client may be trying to avoid. "appear to be in conflict", on the other hand, means something totally different. I think, actually, that if you say "rules have proven to be in conflict with one another", while it is more specific than the more abstract "shown", it means that the rules have proven themselves to be in conflict, or have revealed their conflicting nature, without an external actor actually doing it for them (they've accomplished it on their own).

I hope that made sense. In any case, I would put my foot down and reject the "have shown" option.

Let me know how it goes.


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:00
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Rules "living on their own" vs. rules set and applied by humans Jan 23, 2005

Hi "Paoletrix",

I didn't follow the related KudoZ discussion as I don't understand Swedish but here are some more thoughts:

Firstly, an alternative suggestion that might solve your problem could be "Rules (have) turned out to be conflicting in nature."

Secondly, I beg to at least partially differ as regards the general nature and essence of rules. Ultimately, this boils down to the fact that societal, legal etc. rules are always set, construed, interpreted and applied by human beings. Consequently, the notion of rules "leading their own life/lives" is at least very artificial, and its foundation seems somewhat weak. How would one be able to recognise a potential or actual conflict between rules other than by their interpretation or application?

Having said that, my above suggestion might be a contribution towards untying your "Gordian knot".

Best regards,

Steffen


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Paoletrix
Sweden
Local time: 17:00
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Rules and their nature - I haven't given enough context/explanation Jan 23, 2005

Hi Steffen,
Thanks for your comment. I agree with you as well on "rules are always set, construed, interpreted and applied by human beings". I agree that in a sense, the idea of rules doing something on their own is artificial. In addition, in the interest of time/space, I haven't provided larger pieces of text that might give everyone a better grasp of the whole rule thing.

I've discussed the concept of rules "doing things" with my client, and in order to do this translation, I have to accept what an expert in the field is saying (though it took me a while, as an engineer, to accept what he was telling me about international law, rules of interpretation, treaties, and the behavior of parties/rule appliers/courts etc.) So what I'm asking is that my honorable ProZ colleagues accept for awhile, in order to answer the question, the idea that rules come into conflict with each other on their own.

It's not that I don't appreciate the discussion - I think it's very important. But as I'm working against the clock, I wonder if we can work from the "rules do it on their own" statement, in order to determine the best possible verb.

In this sense, I like "rules have turned out to be".

What do you think?
/Pao


Steffen Walter wrote:

Hi "Paoletrix",

I didn't follow the related KudoZ discussion as I don't understand Swedish but here are some more thoughts:

Firstly, an alternative suggestion that might solve your problem could be "Rules (have) turned out to be conflicting in nature."

Secondly, I beg to at least partially differ as regards the general nature and essence of rules. Ultimately, this boils down to the fact that societal, legal etc. rules are always set, construed, interpreted and applied by human beings. Consequently, the notion of rules "leading their own life/lives" is at least very artificial, and its foundation seems somewhat weak. How would one be able to recognise a potential or actual conflict between rules other than by their interpretation or application?

Having said that, my above suggestion might be a contribution towards untying your "Gordian knot".

Best regards,

Steffen


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Paoletrix
Sweden
Local time: 17:00
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Choice made on KudoZ Jan 24, 2005

Thanks for all the valuable input here and on KudoZ. See the KudoZ posting (Swe-Eng) for "visat sig vara" - "have shown" versus "have been shown".

Paoletrix


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