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Rule by Hiatus

English translation: Option iii

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12:26 Aug 5, 2006
English to English translations [PRO]
Social Sciences - Education / Pedagogy / Zeichensetzung (Punctuation)
English term or phrase: Rule by Hiatus
Which of the following four alternatives do you prefer and why?

i) English may be an important second language, but it is hardly everyone’s first, or even second language of preference.

ii) English may be an important second language, but it is hardly everyone’s first, or even, second language of preference.

iii) English may be an important second language, but it is hardly everyone’s first, or even second, language of preference.

iv) English may be an important second language, but it is hardly everyone’s first or even second language of preference.
R. A. Stegemann
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 19:42
English translation:Option iii
Explanation:
This is the way I would write it. Either commas or dashes need to set off the phrase "or even second", given that concommitant pauses are required in the reading thereof.
Selected response from:

Robert Forstag
United States
Local time: 06:42
Grading comment
Now, who would argue with Ruth on this one? Exactly half of you.

Thanks Robert. You answered the question just as it was asked, and with good precision.

I must admit, however, that Dusty's answer will likely benefit English language learners more.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +6Option iiiRobert Forstag
4 +5option iv
Tony M


Discussion entries: 3





  

Answers


12 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
rule by hiatus
option iv


Explanation:
Personally, Hamo, I prefer iv as being more streamlined and modern.

Otherwise, I would tend to use iii; in this case' the (or second) is clearly parenthetic, and the sentence reads fine if you leave out the part between commas.

I would argue that i is incorrect, as the single comma leaves it hanging in mid air, and leads to a misreading of the second part of the sentence.

To me, ii is just plain wrong; the 'or even' cannot be regarded as having any meaning as a parenthesis, and if you remove the part between commas, the sentence is left flawed.

Tony M
France
Local time: 12:42
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Vicky Papaprodromou: Cheers, Tony! :-)
2 mins
  -> Efharisto, Vicky!

agree  Peter Shortall: Call me old-fashioned(!), but I prefer iii as it has a more measured rhythm... but I do think there is a tendency to use fewer commas nowadays in sentences like this (could put "or even second" in brackets too, but that isn't among the options)
7 mins
  -> Thanks, Peter! I agree, I too am old-fashioned and prefer commas, but I think the trend these days is to omit them where sense is not compromised by so doing

agree  TonyTK: "iii" hits the spot, innit.
32 mins
  -> Thanks, Tony!

agree  xxxooooo
4 hrs
  -> Thanks, Elliot!

agree  Laura_Fazio
15 hrs
  -> Thanks, Laura!
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

53 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +6
rule by hiatus
Option iii


Explanation:
This is the way I would write it. Either commas or dashes need to set off the phrase "or even second", given that concommitant pauses are required in the reading thereof.

Robert Forstag
United States
Local time: 06:42
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Now, who would argue with Ruth on this one? Exactly half of you.

Thanks Robert. You answered the question just as it was asked, and with good precision.

I must admit, however, that Dusty's answer will likely benefit English language learners more.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Fan Gao: I must be a bit old-fashioned too, like Peter said above:) I would also write it this way and it does seem to read easier too.
9 mins
  -> Thank you, CC.

agree  Peter Shortall: Well I can hardly not agree with you now, can I?! :)
44 mins
  -> Thank you, Peter.

agree  Refugio: Dusty may be right that version iv is more often seen nowadays, but the asker asked which we prefer.
2 hrs
  -> Thank you, Ruth.

agree  Anton Baer: agree with Ruth
4 hrs
  -> Thank you, Heinrich.

agree  Asghar Bhatti: agree with Ruth.
9 hrs
  -> Thank you, Asghar.

agree  xxxAlfa Trans
1 day20 hrs
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