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'Germanization' of English?
Thread poster: Robert Rietvelt

matt robinson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:29
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Rules is rules? Feb 25

There are rules regarding the English language but they are descriptive, rather than prescriptive. Common usage or new developments may vary from what we were taught at school, or what we were used to reading or hearing some time ago. I feel that particularly with a language like English, which takes its elements from a wide variety of sources and always has, it is difficult to find a high degree of consensus about "correct" usage. Does it matter? I would say yes, as by convention a specific reg... See more
There are rules regarding the English language but they are descriptive, rather than prescriptive. Common usage or new developments may vary from what we were taught at school, or what we were used to reading or hearing some time ago. I feel that particularly with a language like English, which takes its elements from a wide variety of sources and always has, it is difficult to find a high degree of consensus about "correct" usage. Does it matter? I would say yes, as by convention a specific register and style may be more common in one context or another, and the extent to which the language used "fits" the context will reveal information and may invoke conscious/unconscious prejudice in the target audience with respect to the author.
In this context a style guide is extremely valuable for commissioned L1 content or for text translation.
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Chris S
Philip Lees
Sarah Maidstone
Alex Ossa
Christine Andersen
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:29
French to English
Murphy Feb 25

Tom in London wrote:

..... obviously the odd type may slip in....


I see what you did there. Very clever.

Or is it Muphry's Law again ?

[Edited at 2021-02-25 09:19 GMT]


Luck of the Irish I suppose. Unintentional though. I came back to correct and saw it only then. Got up too early this morning to drive someone to the station. Ugh!


 

Jan Truper  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:29
Member (2016)
English to German
Germanization of German via Germanized English Feb 25

I was translating a game recently. The English source text contained capitalized adjectives (like “Ethereal”, often used in combinations such as “Ethereal Wheelbarrow”, but sometimes appearing as stand-alone adjectives in a sentence).
The client insisted that I follow the source capitalization in German, despite my reservations. The result looked horrible, since German readers will read capitalized words as nouns, and capitalized adjectives are totally confusing.

[Edited at
... See more
I was translating a game recently. The English source text contained capitalized adjectives (like “Ethereal”, often used in combinations such as “Ethereal Wheelbarrow”, but sometimes appearing as stand-alone adjectives in a sentence).
The client insisted that I follow the source capitalization in German, despite my reservations. The result looked horrible, since German readers will read capitalized words as nouns, and capitalized adjectives are totally confusing.

[Edited at 2021-02-25 10:40 GMT]
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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 03:29
English to Croatian
+ ...
Double post Feb 25

Double post

[Edited at 2021-02-25 13:34 GMT]


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:29
French to English
Purveyors of convention and creativity Feb 25

matt robinson wrote:

There are rules regarding the English language but they are descriptive, rather than prescriptive. Common usage or new developments may vary from what we were taught at school, or what we were used to reading or hearing some time ago. I feel that particularly with a language like English, which takes its elements from a wide variety of sources and always has, it is difficult to find a high degree of consensus about "correct" usage. Does it matter? I would say yes, as by convention a specific register and style may be more common in one context or another, and the extent to which the language used "fits" the context will reveal information and may invoke conscious/unconscious prejudice in the target audience with respect to the author.
In this context a style guide is extremely valuable for commissioned L1 content or for text translation.


As linguists, we are purveyors of both convention and creativity in our use of language. English, as a modern, living language, is highly subject to influence. It influences other languages in turn. Its users do play with language and each generation invents, creates, modifies, uses and abuses language. Playing around with language points to a certain degree of mastery. I agree that there are indeed contexts where sticking to the rules is of paramount importance! I find myself considering a native speaker of English who fails to capitalise the personal pronoun "I" as being probably not being well-educated, telephone keyboards and the odd typo notwithstanding. I do differentiate between intelligence and instruction but do unfortunately find myself making judgments about a professional and educated native-speaker of English and linguist who consistently makes this specific mistake. Unforgivable? Unforgiving? Hmm. Unfair probably, but as a linguist, I think it is important to take a stand on certain points and this is one of mine! Fully assumed.

[Edited at 2021-02-25 10:50 GMT]


matt robinson
Alex Ossa
Christine Andersen
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:29
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Punctuation Feb 25

Lingua 5B wrote:

In addition to the already mentioned reasons, this may also happen when an author wants to stress the word for whatever personal or contextual reasons, this is in American English.


I'm having trouble punctuating that.

Was it meant to be

(a) In addition to the already mentioned reasons, this may also happen when an author wants to stress the word for whatever personal or contextual reasons. This is in American English.

(b) In addition to the already mentioned reasons, this may also happen when an author wants to stress the word. For whatever personal or contextual reasons, this is in American English.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:29
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Muphry Feb 25

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

..... obviously the odd type may slip in....


I see what you did there. Very clever.

Or is it Muphry's Law again ?

[Edited at 2021-02-25 09:19 GMT]


Luck of the Irish I suppose. Unintentional though. I came back to correct and saw it only then. Got up too early this morning to drive someone to the station. Ugh!


Muphry, not "Murphy".

https://ireland-calling.com/muphrys-law/


 

Oksana Weiss  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:29
Member (2011)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Easy! Feb 26

Jan Truper wrote: The English source text contained capitalized adjectives (like “Ethereal”, often used in combinations such as “Ethereal Wheelbarrow”, but sometimes appearing as stand-alone adjectives in a sentence).
The client insisted that I follow the source capitalization in German, despite my reservations. The result looked horrible, since German readers will read capitalized words as nouns, and capitalized adjectives are totally confusing.

[Edited at 2021-02-25 10:40 GMT]


In that case, the solution is easy: just put a hyphen (Ethereal-Wheelbarrow) and it will sound German enough!:)


 

Sarah Maidstone
Germany
Local time: 03:29
Member (2020)
German to English
+ ...
Where do I to look.... Feb 27

Jan Truper wrote:

I was translating a game recently. The English source text contained capitalized adjectives (like “Ethereal”, often used in combinations such as “Ethereal Wheelbarrow”, but sometimes appearing as stand-alone adjectives in a sentence).
The client insisted that I follow the source capitalization in German, despite my reservations. The result looked horrible, since German readers will read capitalized words as nouns, and capitalized adjectives are totally confusing.

[Edited at 2021-02-25 10:40 GMT]


... to find jobs about Ethereal Wheelbarrows? The mind boggles...


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:29
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I can't be bothered to think of a title Feb 28

matt robinson wrote:

Does it matter? I would say yes



When did the habit come in of asking your own questions and immediately answering them yourself?


 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:29
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Dear colleagues Feb 28

Thank you for all your input.

So, is it safe to conclude that, except for the obvious (at the start of a sentence, proper names, institutions, etc.), that there are no rules in the English languages for the abundant and at random use of capital letters?

[Edited at 2021-02-28 19:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2021-02-28 19:35 GMT]


Chris S
 

Alex Ossa  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 22:29
Member (2017)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Erm... No? Mar 29

Robert Rietvelt wrote:

Thank you for all your input.

So, is it safe to conclude that, except for the obvious (at the start of a sentence, proper names, institutions, etc.), that there are no rules in the English languages for the abundant and at random use of capital letters?

[Edited at 2021-02-28 19:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2021-02-28 19:35 GMT]



Several people have mentioned rules and that random capitalisation looks awful - to the potential point of making the writer look uneducated.

If your takeaway from that is, "oh, so there aren't really any rules", I don't think you've properly grasped the complexity of rules in English.

There are rules. Some of them prescriptive, some of them descriptive. Misuse the descriptive ones at your peril. Sounds stupid that descriptive rules can be misused? Yeah, welcome to the English language.


Christine Andersen
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:29
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Find your favourite guru or style guide Mar 29

Robert Rietvelt wrote:

Thank you for all your input.

So, is it safe to conclude that, except for the obvious (at the start of a sentence, proper names, institutions, etc.), that there are no rules in the English languages for the abundant and at random use of capital letters?

[Edited at 2021-02-28 19:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2021-02-28 19:35 GMT]


I would rather say there are a number of different conventions, and to be consistent, at least within the same text or when working for a particular client, it is a good idea to decide on your own default rules and keep to them.

In fact I have several works that I look things up in, depending on the question. With regard to capitals, the first two (or three) give all the advice you need!

-- The Longman Guide to English Usage has a couple of pages which are clear and concise, under the headings
General
sentence capitals
names
titles of works
family titles (Mother, Dad, Aunt Helen, Uncle Tom)
verse
acronyms
God

-- RL Trask, The Penguin Guide to Punctuation has a slightly longer section on capitals and is very thorough. There is a good summary at the end of the section, and it is the cheapest of these books to buy!
It is excellent for the area it covers, but it does not attempt to be a full grammar or style guide.

-- Ernest Gowers' Plain Words is good common sense, occasionally a little dated, although it has been revised several times. There is half a page (practically identical) on capitalization in the two editions I looked in, mentioning names and distinguishing the specific from the generic, as others have mentioned here.

-- Michael Swan's Practical English Usage mentions capitals in several places in a fair amount of detail

-- The Chicago Manual of Style deals in careful detail with just about everything you need to know for academic writing.

I would only consult the last two about capitals if I really needed to know all the details - they are heavy going, but Chicago is worth reading a chapter at a time if you want to claim you are seriously studying English! You can try it out free online before investing in it, and it is sometimes total overkill.

Michael Swan is patchy IMHO, though much of it is very useful. It is written for non-native students of English, so some of the explanations are unnecessarily long and detailed if they deal with an area where you don't have problems.

-- Lynn Truss's Eats, shoots and leaves is a very good guide to avoiding pitfalls that annoy a lot of English speakers, and quite entertaining if you like that kind of thing.

There are so many books available, comparatively cheaply, in English - I won't bore you with any more!



[Edited at 2021-03-30 10:24 GMT]


Chris S
Robert Rietvelt
Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
 

Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:29
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
There is no such trend, to my knowledge Mar 30

I have not noticed any trend to capitalisation of nouns in English. To my knowledge, the rules are the same as they have been for years. Capitalising a noun implies there is something "special" about it, such as: it's the name of a person, company, country, language, institution, city, road, make or model of car or truck. I would not, for example, capitalise the names of games such as chess, golf, football. Of course, the first word of a sentence is capitalised, and so is the personal pronoun "I... See more
I have not noticed any trend to capitalisation of nouns in English. To my knowledge, the rules are the same as they have been for years. Capitalising a noun implies there is something "special" about it, such as: it's the name of a person, company, country, language, institution, city, road, make or model of car or truck. I would not, for example, capitalise the names of games such as chess, golf, football. Of course, the first word of a sentence is capitalised, and so is the personal pronoun "I".
(Other errors in the use of English might be worth separate discussions, such as my current "favourites": the misuse of the apostrophe and the misuse of the words "jab" and "Europe".)
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'Germanization' of English?

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