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English optional plurals - ticket(s)
Thread poster: Alicja Weikop

Alicja Weikop  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:11
English to Polish
+ ...
Aug 13, 2009

I was wondering how you translate the English optional plurals - added at the end of the word as this (s).

Please collect your ticket(s).

Imitating it in other languages may look weird and leads to ungrammatical sentences.

Do you simplify and leave it singular only? So you leave it plural only? Or do you keep this sg/pl alternative in some way that your language allows?


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:11
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Two points Aug 13, 2009

Alicja Weikop wrote:
Imitating it in other languages may look weird and leads to ungrammatical sentences.


Yep. Some languages have more than two plural forms and some languages' plural forms differ from English. So whereas English a zero is plural (e.g. "0 cars", not "0 car"), it may be singular in other languages.

In Afrikaans we're lucky in that our plural system is very similar to English. Our plural endings are sometimes a little more complex, so the translator has to choose whether to write out both words or put something in brackets that would not normally be added to the word.

* 1 kind, 2 kinders: %d kind(ers)
* 1 vraag, 2 vrae: %d vraag(e) OR %d vraag/vrae OR %d vra(ag/e) OR other silly attempts. I favour the first option.


 

Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:11
English to Czech
+ ...
Plural only for software localization Aug 13, 2009

I use plural only for software in accordance with MS Style Guide. Sometimes I also use "singular or plural", e.g. "ticket or tickets".

 

xxxloumie
Switzerland
Local time: 23:11
French to Romanian
+ ...
It depends on the target language Aug 13, 2009

It depends on the target language, I mean "singular" in one language may express a plural in the source language. You have to choose between singular or plural in the target language taking into account what you want to express through the source language.

 

Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:11
French to English
+ ...
What happens in Polish? Aug 13, 2009

I don't translate out of English so I can't give you any direct experience. In general, though, a good question to ask is "what do we normally say in [X language] in such situations?"

I don't imagine the fact of there being either one or more than one object is particularly culturally specific, so you could ask yourself what you would say if you were advising a monolingual friend where to pick up his/her ticket. Or tickets.

In other words, abstract away from the English and get at the idea.


 

Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:11
English to Slovak
+ ...
Depends on the target language Aug 13, 2009

For example: "document consisting of .... page(s)" would be in Slovak "dokument pozostávajúci z .... strany/strán". Then, "date(s) of birth" would be "dátum(y) narodenia".
At least that's how I deal with it.


 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:11
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
In the example, depends how many tickets each. Aug 13, 2009

"Please collect your ticket" makes it clear that each person addressed is only to collect one ticket.
"Please collect your tickets" is ambiguous. If addressed to several people, or the public in general, it could mean the same, or that each person is to collect more than one ticket.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:11
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Therein lies the problem Aug 13, 2009

Jack Doughty wrote:

"Please collect your ticket" makes it clear that each person addressed is only to collect one ticket.
"Please collect your tickets" is ambiguous. If addressed to several people, or the public in general, it could mean the same, or that each person is to collect more than one ticket.


If it's not clear in the source language, what chance is there of making it clear in the target language, where each different possible meaning has ambiguities? Per haps you need to translate from the unambiguous but tortured "Would each person or persons please collect his/her/their ticket or tickets". Just make sure you charge per target word!


 

Maria Karra  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:11
Member (2000)
Greek to English
+ ...
plural or singular Aug 13, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:
Yep. Some languages have more than two plural forms and some languages' plural forms differ from English. So whereas English a zero is plural (e.g. "0 cars", not "0 car"), it may be singular in other languages.


I didn't know this. Can you give a couple of examples? In the few languages I know, zero is followed by a plural. It would be interesting to see examples from other languages where this is different.
For example, you would say "kein Kind", "κανένα παιδί" (Greek for "no child" or "no children"), "aucun enfant", "ningún niño", all in singular
but when it comes to the number 0 we say "cero amigos", "zéro amis", "he has zero friends", etc.

Alicja, in the example you gave, it's exactly like Jack said: it depends on the number of tickets that each person has.

"Please collect your ticket" makes it clear that each person addressed is only to collect one ticket.
"Please collect your tickets" is ambiguous. If addressed to several people, or the public in general, it could mean the same, or that each person is to collect more than one ticket.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:11
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
French/English difference Aug 13, 2009

@ Maria

Not sure about your "zéro amis"

My son had a big battle with his French-speaking English teacher when he was too small to win - his teacher got fed up with writing 20/20 on his tests so changed to writing "zero error". He had the tenacity to point out her mistake and she was highly indignant, stating that 2 was plural, 1 singular, and so 0 (being less than 1) couldn't possibly be plural.

My son had no argument at all, except for "I know it's plural - zero error just doesn't sound right". He arrived home in tears and all we could say was "You're right, but for heaven's sake don't tell Madame "I told you so!"".


 

Rebekka Groß  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:11
English to German
yes, plural for localisation Aug 13, 2009

Hynek Palatin wrote:

I use plural only for software in accordance with MS Style Guide. Sometimes I also use "singular or plural", e.g. "ticket or tickets".


Not just in accordance with the MS Style Guide. In technical translations - and I deliberately include localisation here - it generally makes sense to opt for the plural form. Most of the time, it'll be clear for the user even if they only have one ticketicon_smile.gif

P.S.: Are you working on something interesting, Alicja? I thought you were in Berlin.

P.P.S.: In German, with its three genders for nouns, it's often not possible to put the plural form in brackets. However, if this is a software instruction, you may be able to do it. In help and doc, I would still go with the plural.

If these tickets are cinema tickets booked online, for example, even in German you could actually add the plural in brackets, just like in the source text.

Holen Sie Ihre Eintrittskarte(n) ab.

The more I think about it, the harder it is to answer to answer this question and you can probalby hear me shout MORE CONTEXT - you've opened a can of worms, girlicon_wink.gif

[Edited at 2009-08-13 21:36 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-08-13 21:36 GMT]


 

Klementina Shahini
United States
Local time: 17:11
Member (2009)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Context Aug 14, 2009

It depends a lot on the context the word is used too. In your case the verb "collect” give us the idea that we are dealing with more than with one ticket. Otherwise we would say: Get your ticket. Sure enough we have to focus on the grammar rules of the language too. Some languages have numbers, genders, others do not. And in some other languages it is hard to tell the number so we use the bracket version. It's so hard to come up with one recipe or one solution.

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:11
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
A pointer for Maria K Aug 14, 2009

Maria Karra wrote:
In the few languages I know, zero is followed by a plural. It would be interesting to see examples from other languages where this is different.


Well, I don't have examples, but here is an interesting link:

http://www.gnu.org/software/hello/manual/gettext/Plural-forms.html


 

Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:11
French to English
+ ...
Not really Aug 14, 2009

Klemi wrote:
In your case the verb "collect” give us the idea that we are dealing with more than with one ticket. Otherwise we would say: Get your ticket.


It's true that the verb "collect" can connote a collection of objects (plural), but this is not relevant in this case. One would be just as likely to collect a single ticket (from the railway station, for example) as to collect several tickets. The usage of the verb in this instance is synonymous with "pick up".


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:11
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
"collect" Aug 15, 2009

Klemi wrote:

It depends a lot on the context the word is used too. In your case the verb "collect” give us the idea that we are dealing with more than with one ticket. Otherwise we would say: Get your ticket.


Angela Dickson wrote:

It's true that the verb "collect" can connote a collection of objects (plural), but this is not relevant in this case. One would be just as likely to collect a single ticket (from the railway station, for example) as to collect several tickets. The usage of the verb in this instance is synonymous with "pick up".


This is probably a difference in the usage of the verb "collect" in British and US English. I would only use "collect" with a plural noun or a singular non-count noun (e.g. "money","dust"), but I have heard speakers of British English use it with singular count nouns.


 
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English optional plurals - ticket(s)

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