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Help! My client doesn't know it's out of date to say "Before Christ"
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Apr 20, 2013

Maybe it's because Italy is still dominated by one particular religion (Catholicism)? I don't know. But I have had complaints from an Italian client who claims *never to have heard* of BCE and CE and doesn't want me to use those terms.

Since the customer is always right (even when they're wrong) I've adopted the archaic "BC" ("Before Christ") and "AD" ("Anno Domini") even though I know the anglophone person reading my text will be startled to see them still used in the year 2013.

In academic texts and elsewhere it's now considered normal to write "BCE" and "CE" where once those old terms were the norm.

Has anyone else encountered this problem?


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:45
Italian to English
Somebody ought to tell John Hart Apr 20, 2013

Tom in London wrote:

In academic texts and elsewhere it's now considered normal to write "BCE" and "CE" where once those old terms were the norm.



http://www.johnhartstudios.com/bc/


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Giovanna Alessandra Meloni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:45
Member (2012)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
I am Italian Apr 20, 2013

so I can imagine you client prefers "BC" because he/she thinks about the Italian translation (avanti Cristo), but I can't understand why he/she suggests to use A.D. if it is not essential for the text (and if you think it is not correct, I think you are right).

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
I'm right, I know.... Apr 20, 2013

Giovanna Alessandra Meloni wrote:

so I can imagine you client prefers "BC" because he/she thinks about the Italian translation (avanti Cristo), but I can't understand why he/she suggests to use A.D. if it is not essential for the text (and if you think it is not correct, I think you are right).


Giovanna - I may be right, and thanks for telling me I am, but my client has been very aggressive about it, so I've had to "swallow the toad" as you Italians say.


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Italian to English
A fad Apr 20, 2013

I've only recently heard of BCE and CE

Personally I refuse to use such faddish things; I don't expect them to catch on!


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Standard practice Apr 20, 2013

Russell Jones wrote:

I've only recently heard of BCE and CE

Personally I refuse to use such faddish things; I don't expect them to catch on!


Hardly a passing fad, Russell! In academic texts and the art world etc. it has been standard practice for some time. You'd be looked at askance if you said "BC" and "AD" !

The fact that old fogeys like Boris Johnson think BCE and CE are just a fashion, or yet another example of political correctness, simply underscores their antiquatedness !!! Imagine writing a paper on Islamic art and using "BC" and "AD" to denote the dates.....(and that's only an example).

[Edited at 2013-04-20 16:46 GMT]


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texjax DDS PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:45
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
What is the Common Era based on? Apr 20, 2013

Tom in London wrote:

Imagine writing a paper on Islamic art and using "BC" and "AD" to denote the dates.....(and that's only an example).

[Edited at 2013-04-20 16:46 GMT]


But, whether it’s BC or BCE, both systems take the Gregorian calendar as their starting point.

As the Telegraph’s Christopher Booker noted: “The trouble with this politically-correct effort to spare offence to Muslims, Jews, atheists or other non-Christians from the use of a dating system tied to Jesus, is that it prompts any child to ask ‘So what is this Common Era based on?’, and brings up the very point it seeks to avoid.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/8737038/To-BC-or-BCE.html



The new designation is unsatisfactory on several levels. In the first place, no "common era" exists. It can't be found in history books or the dictionary. It was just made up. If there is a common era, it didn't begin in the year one; it probably began around 1500 A.D. when ocean exploration connected the world in a global trading network.

[...]

The politically sensitive thinkers who developed the new terminology were not so bold as to identify a new, logical, non-Christian basis for dating time such as the beginning of agriculture ten thousand years ago or the beginning of civilization five thousand years ago. Instead, they kept the Christian system but attempted to obscure its historical origin, a curiously anti-historical act.


http://www.studentsfriend.com/feed/topic11.html


[Edited at 2013-04-20 17:12 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
That's all as may be but... Apr 20, 2013

....as I say, these days, you'd be looked at in a funny way if you used those antiquated Christian-biased terms in an academic setting, art history, etc. I too used to be resistant to the "new" terms but I have been persuaded to see the error of my ways.

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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:45
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Seems I am archaic... Apr 20, 2013

Tom in London wrote:

Hardly a passing fad, Russell! In academic texts and the art world etc. it has been standard practice for some time. You'd be looked at askance if you said "BC" and "AD" !
The fact that old fogeys like Boris Johnson think BCE and CE are just a fashion, or yet another example of political correctness, simply underscores their antiquatedness !!!


Oh my! My education in classics and history took place barely 25 years ago, and I don't recall a single reference to BC or BCE. Now I must come to grips with the fact that I am so old that my school days apparently took place in antiquity!

Imagine writing a paper on Islamic art and using "BC" and "AD" to denote the dates.....(and that's only an example).


That's exactly why such PC avoidance of BC and AD is pointless. In both nomenclatures, the reference date is known to be the birth of Christ, so any persons of non-Christian religions who might be offended will be offended anyway. What's the purpose of writing the date in a paper on Islamic art as (basically) XX "Before Him Who Must Not Be Named", when everybody - Christian or not - knows exactly who the referenced He is?





[Edited at 2013-04-20 17:23 GMT]


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:45
English to Polish
+ ...
I stick with BC/AD Apr 20, 2013

I stick with BC/AD myself. I also send Christmas and Easter greetings.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Somebody agree with me ! Apr 20, 2013

So far nobody has agreed with me. In the meantime chew on this, you old dinosaurs:

http://atheism.about.com/od/ideasforatheistactivism/a/BCE-CE-Years.htm




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texjax DDS PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:45
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
:)) Apr 20, 2013



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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 09:45
Chinese to English
I've had this, and I just say no (then yes) Apr 20, 2013

After I give a text back to a client, they are free to do with it whatever they want. If that includes replacing BCE with BC, that is entirely up to them.

But my job is to translate their text into English, using the correct English register, jargon and idiom. And that's my expertise - on linguistic questions, I'm going to be correct 99% of the time. My opinion on the correct English will not change because of the client's peculiar preferences.

So, I'd definitely let the client know in no uncertain terms that I do not agree with what they're asking for; that my professional opinion is that the text should have CE and BCE.

But having said that, it's just a 10s find & replace job, and it's their funeral, not mine, so I'd probably do it for the sake of a quiet life and repeat business. I'm just not emotionally invested enough in my clients' work to care if they want to mess it up. As long as I've covered myself, I'll make any easy changes you want. Hell, you can have it in comic sans, if that's what floats your boat.


And to those who seem to be emotionally invested in "A.D." and "B.C." - I know it takes all sorts to make a world, but seriously, that's a weird one. Why do you care?


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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:45
German to English
+ ...
AH is good for papers written about Islamic art Apr 20, 2013

Tom in London wrote:

Imagine writing a paper on Islamic art and using "BC" and "AD" to denote the dates.....(and that's only an example).

[Edited at 2013-04-20 16:46 GMT]


The natural solution then is to express dates as AH together with the AD/BC date so that non Muslims know roughly which period is being referred to.

e.g. "Meanwhile, that part of Iberia occupied by Islamic peoples, known as Al‑Andalus, which had been previously ruled by governors on behalf of an Oriental Caliph, became an independent emirate (172 AH/AD 788) [AH = anno hegirae (in the year of the Hijra)]."

e.g. "Floral and plant designs appear often in Islamic arts and crafts. The vine with grapes was the most common. At the time of the Caliphate of Cordoba, which relates to some regions in Portugal today, grapes were important to the Andalusian economy, and their image was even struck on their coins. They can be seen on various dirham coins from Al‑Andalus (Cordoba), from Madinat al‑Zahra, from the reign of Al‑Hakem II (350‑366 AH/AD 961‑976) and that of Hixam II (1st reign, 366‑399 AH/AD 976‑1009) (See Fig. 56).

Obviously, consumption of wine did not stop, even in Islamic Andalusia. And there was no shortage of excess either. Carvalho (1912: 15) writes about the Emir Abu’l‑ ‘Asi Al–Hakam I, who ruled between 206 and 238 AH/AD 822‑852, 'In order to recover from the hardships of war, he circumvented the precepts and prohibitions of the Qur’an, and gave himself up to extravagant dinner parties, where dessert wines flowed in abundance.'”

I quote immodestly from one of my own translations, to be found here:

http://www.vinetowinecircle.com/en/history/islamic-legacy-and-viticulture/

I decided to retain the BC/AD notation because readership of this portal will not necessarily be academic. After reading as much as I could about the BCE/CE notation, I had imaginary conversations with my father, and a few friends to get a feel for it.

This was the gist of my imaginary conversation:
Father/Others: What is BCE/CE?
Me: It is the modern notation for BC/AD
Father/Others: Well why didn't you put BC/AD, then?

I tested a few well-read English speakers where I live too. 1 out of 20 knew what I was talking about.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:45
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It is an objective fact Apr 20, 2013

Politically correct or not, approximately 2013 years ago there was a Jew who made such an impression on the world that a whole new era was started at the time he was believed to have been born, and the rest of the world does actually use the system of dates.

The French tried to introduce a new calendar under the Revolution - but it was dropped. Others have tried too, without universal success. Just think what an achievement it actually was to change the way people thought so much!

It would be more politically correct to count time from some other reference point. However, Wikipedia quotes the CIA's Fact Book as having counted up that 33.9% - a third of the world's population - are Christians of one kind or another. That is an awful lot of people. They are not going to die out in the next couple of generations either - unless the Last Trump finally does sound.

Until someone comes up with a better suggestion - and a different reference point - I prefer to call a spade a spade and Anno Domini Anno Domini.

BCE sounds incredibly close to BC anyway...

Whatever date is chosen as Year Zero, it will probably offend someone and certainly annoy others who are used to the old system. Of course, that is no reason not to do it anyway. But it will be far more difficult than persuading Brits and Americans to drop feet, yards, gallons and degrees Fahrenheit and go over to SI units...


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