Minister *of* or *for*

English translation: either, but rather depending on what follows

20:17 Nov 27, 2006
English to English translations [PRO]
Government / Politics
English term or phrase: Minister *of* or *for*
Which one is correct?

Minister of European Affairs
or
Minister for European Affairs

You can find references for both - is there a rule?

MTIA!
Ralf Lemster
Germany
Local time: 18:45
English translation:either, but rather depending on what follows
Explanation:
I think in the UK we most often use 'of' where what follows is quite tangible, and 'for' where it is more of an abstract objective. Like CMJ, in the current specific example, I would almost instinctively want to use 'for' with the Minister, and 'of' with the Ministry.

M. of Health / Transport / Defence / Internal Affairs
M. for Overseas Development / the Environment / Energy
Selected response from:

Tony M
France
Local time: 18:45
Grading comment
Thanks to all for their answers and interesting points of view - a truly difficult job assigning points here!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
5 +2For
Anna Maria Augustine at proZ.com (X)
3 +3depends on which flavour of English you prefer
Ken Cox
4 +1It depends on the portfolio
Raynald Adam (X)
4Both, but in different contexts...
William [Bill] Gray
4Minister of ... | Ministry of ...
Roddy Stegemann
4either, but rather depending on what follows
Tony M
4OF for ministry-- Both FOR-OF for minister
Ex-True
2minister of a department, minister for a service/an affair
Erich Ekoputra


Discussion entries: 2





  

Answers


1 min   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
minister *of* or *for*
For


Explanation:
*

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Note added at 2 mins (2006-11-27 20:19:58 GMT)
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He/she is the Minister for....

www.world-english.org

Anna Maria Augustine at proZ.com (X)
France
Local time: 18:45
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in FrenchFrench
PRO pts in category: 12

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  David Hollywood: not sure if there's a rule as such but I would definitely say "for" here ("for" alludes to the idea of "responsibilities" ... more active than "of")
4 mins
  -> Thank you

agree  Robert Fox
13 hrs
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45 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +3
minister *of* or *for*
depends on which flavour of English you prefer


Explanation:
As a US NES, I would say 'Minister of', but 'Minister for' seems to be favoured in the English versions of German titles (also 'ministry for').

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_of_Defence for both usages, depending on the country (not that I know how official the translations are).

Ken Cox
Local time: 18:45
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Ex-True: That's true but nowadays these two different usage of prepositions in translating a political text or speech by international translators are not viewed diachronically and they are taken to be the same as eachother. Best Regards
13 mins

agree  conejo: I vote for "minister of", as a US English speaker
58 mins

agree  Yavor Dimitrov: "minister FOR" seems to be used more often in Ireland.
14 hrs
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43 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
minister *of* or *for*
OF for ministry-- Both FOR-OF for minister


Explanation:
When dealing with "Minister" there is not any rule and you can choose either "OF" or "FOR" as you wish actually. But when it comes to ministry there is only the option of "OF". I personally like the way you use those prepositions with both terms.

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Note added at 49 mins (2006-11-27 21:06:37 GMT)
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Because when you do it you way, which is using "FOR" with Minister and "OF" with ministry as you have noted in fact you avoid unnecessary repetition of "OF" meanwhile your text sounds more stylistic.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 51 mins (2006-11-27 21:08:25 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

...when you do it your* way

Example sentence(s):
  • Minister for foreign affairs--Minister of foreign affairs
  • Ministry of foreign affairs
Ex-True
Local time: 21:15
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in Persian (Farsi)Persian (Farsi), Native in Farsi (Persian)Farsi (Persian)
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
minister *of* or *for*
either, but rather depending on what follows


Explanation:
I think in the UK we most often use 'of' where what follows is quite tangible, and 'for' where it is more of an abstract objective. Like CMJ, in the current specific example, I would almost instinctively want to use 'for' with the Minister, and 'of' with the Ministry.

M. of Health / Transport / Defence / Internal Affairs
M. for Overseas Development / the Environment / Energy

Tony M
France
Local time: 18:45
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 12
Grading comment
Thanks to all for their answers and interesting points of view - a truly difficult job assigning points here!
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

5 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5
minister *of* or *for*
minister of a department, minister for a service/an affair


Explanation:
I like CMJ_Trans words: bizarre instinct. I am not basing my answer on any linguistic rules, but I guess it is more natural to say "minister of" when there is a (permanent) institution/department that s/he leads, and to say "minister for" when the institution is ad-hoc or below department level. In your case, "minister for" seems to be the appropriate one as I dont think it has a level of organization as complex as, say, foreign affairs.



Erich Ekoputra
Indonesia
Local time: 23:45
Native speaker of: Native in IndonesianIndonesian
PRO pts in category: 4
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
minister *of* or *for*
Minister of ... | Ministry of ...


Explanation:

This is definitely the US preference, and I welcome you to examine the names of US government departments and high-ranking officials in those departments. One says, the Secretary of State and the State Department or Department of State, the Secretary of Defense and the Defense Department or Department of Defense. The word "for" never appears.

These is essentially no reason to change this nomenclature when speaking of the ministers and ministries of other governments unless those governments themselves show a preference.

If you are writing to an international audience and looking for some sort of guideline, along the lines of a US/British split, then go to the British government website and browse around. If you are writing to the English speakers of a single country, then check out that countries website and follow their own usage.

Roddy Stegemann
United States
Local time: 09:45
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8
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9 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
minister *of* or *for*
Both, but in different contexts...


Explanation:
Sorry to add yet another answer, but it's the only way I get enough room to write my explanation!!
I believe that these two alternatives reveal something of an historical development. The "of" alternative seems to be used much more for the long-standing, more traditional ministers and ministries (M. of Health, for example) while the "for" alternative is more applied to newer developments within parliament's responsibilities (M. for European Affairs). My theory is that the "for" alternative originated to cover ministers OF certain departments, who also had responsibility FOR another portfolio, which did not have the same importance/prestige/claim on one's time as the main portfolio. Later, as these newer portfolios developed, and became "equals" in the corridors of power, they may well (and do appear to) receive the OF alternative.

This appears to be supported both by Rita's important and informative link from the British Parliament, and also from a comparison of the two on a Google search which omits "Prime Minister of":
Google results:
Minster of: 13,100,000
Minister for: 1,910,000

This is not a result of careful investigation, rather "of the top of my head", but I have a gut feeling about it!!


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Note added at 9 hrs (2006-11-28 05:52:14 GMT)
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Sorry, "off the top of my head"! The problem is the said head is just waking up!!


William [Bill] Gray
Norway
Local time: 18:45
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 12
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23 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
minister *of* or *for*
It depends on the portfolio


Explanation:
In the Canadian experience, whenever a government ministry has been created by law, it is referred to as the Ministry OF (e.g. Finance, Trade, Immigration, etc.) and the Minister in charge of that portfolio is also Minister OF.

However, when specific portfolios are assigned to Ministers without the creation of a Ministry (increasingly called Departments here as per the US model), the Minister becomes Minister FOR (e.g. Women's Affairs, Sport, etc.)

These responsibilities are not necessarily taken on by a Ministry, but rather by bodies such as an Office of..., a Directorate, etc.


    Reference: http://www.gc.ca
    Reference: http://www.gov.on.ca
Raynald Adam (X)
Local time: 12:45
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in FrenchFrench, Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Tony M: Well expressed — that's exactly the distinction I was trying to make, and I think the same is broadly true in the UK
34 mins
  -> My Political Science studies have served me well, especially in my work for the Premier of Ontario! :-)
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