example of use: (Un)Gesetzlichkeit

English translation: (il)legality

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
German term or phrase:(Un)Gesetzlichkeit
English translation:(il)legality
Entered by: Teresa Reinhardt

21:43 Oct 8, 2007
German to English translations [PRO]
Social Sciences - Linguistics / German use of parentheses (round brackets)
German term or phrase: example of use: (Un)Gesetzlichkeit
I show a made-up example to illustrate a use of parentheses (round brackets) by German writers, which at first confused me until I worked out its function. The writer uses parentheses as a sort of shorthand "or", to make the sentence cover two cases simultaneously, while avoiding repetition of the core term. In this example both legality and illegality could be covered in a single phrase. The leading part in parentheses can be a prefix that alters the meaning, or an adjective or adverb. It is quite different from the more familiar use of parentheses to enclose an aside or some additional secondary information. So far as I know, it is specific to German writers, especially scientists. How and when did it come into use? Has it been carried over from a mathematical notation? Is it used in other languages? - I haven't seen it in English. Any explanations or comments, especially from German speakers, please?
Jack Becconsall
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:17
(il)legality
Explanation:
I don't quite understand; if you google even the exact same term in English, you will find lots of native E. examples of the same usage

e.g., at www.law.northwestern.edu/journals/jihr/v4/n1/15/
Selected response from:

Teresa Reinhardt
United States
Local time: 17:17
Grading comment
Selected automatically based on peer agreement.



Summary of answers provided
5 +3(il)legality
Teresa Reinhardt


Discussion entries: 5





  

Answers


11 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +3
(il)legality


Explanation:
I don't quite understand; if you google even the exact same term in English, you will find lots of native E. examples of the same usage

e.g., at www.law.northwestern.edu/journals/jihr/v4/n1/15/

Teresa Reinhardt
United States
Local time: 17:17
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 10
Grading comment
Selected automatically based on peer agreement.
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thanks Teresa and the others. I take the point that the device is also used in English, perhaps especially in legal documents, a field that I never touch as a translator. It did occur to me after sending the question that, for example, the optional plural at the end (s) is very common in English. But unlike all of you, I rarely come across an optional parenthesis at the beginning of an English word, which probably tells something about the limited subject range that I deal with (science/tech).

Asker: Thanks everyone, but I still think there is a point to be made about a difference between German and English usage, which I haven't yet succeeded in conveying. In Teresa's example the writer uses "(il)legal" to emphasize doubt about whether it's legal or not. That usage is different from what I meet in German texts. Take this sentence: "Mit dieser Methode haben wir verschiedene (lösliche) Substanzen untersucht". The writer means that they have investigated both soluble and insoluble materials. In English, if I read "We have used this method to study various (soluble) materials", I would assume that only soluble materials were investigated - in fact the parentheses are unnecessary. Maybe I'm wrong about this perceived difference in conventions?


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Susanne Rindlisbacher
18 mins
  -> Thanks, Susanne!

agree  deleteme (X): well the second I read the German word, illegality is the word that came to mind.
43 mins
  -> Thnaks, Rosalyn!

agree  Kathi Stock
2 hrs
  -> Thanks, Kathi!
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