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BS: Tech US to UK English advice please

ClaireBear 10 Nov 06 - 06:03 PM
JohnInKansas 10 Nov 06 - 08:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Nov 06 - 09:01 PM
Gurney 10 Nov 06 - 11:21 PM
JohnInKansas 11 Nov 06 - 01:33 AM
Richard Bridge 11 Nov 06 - 02:29 AM
The Villan 11 Nov 06 - 02:54 AM
The Villan 11 Nov 06 - 03:01 AM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Nov 06 - 03:21 AM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Nov 06 - 03:24 AM
Liz the Squeak 11 Nov 06 - 03:28 AM
GUEST, Topsie 11 Nov 06 - 08:32 AM
GUEST, Topsie 11 Nov 06 - 08:33 AM
Les from Hull 11 Nov 06 - 09:08 AM
Richard Bridge 11 Nov 06 - 09:16 AM
GUEST,... 11 Nov 06 - 10:03 AM
OtherDave 11 Nov 06 - 10:05 AM
GUEST,thurg 11 Nov 06 - 12:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Nov 06 - 01:22 PM
Snuffy 11 Nov 06 - 01:25 PM
GUEST, Topsie 11 Nov 06 - 01:40 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Nov 06 - 01:54 PM
ClaireBear 11 Nov 06 - 02:06 PM
ClaireBear 11 Nov 06 - 02:09 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Nov 06 - 02:17 PM
ClaireBear 11 Nov 06 - 02:25 PM
GUEST, Topsie 11 Nov 06 - 03:10 PM
ClaireBear 11 Nov 06 - 03:31 PM
GUEST, Topsie 11 Nov 06 - 04:22 PM
Bill D 11 Nov 06 - 04:29 PM
GUEST,thurg 11 Nov 06 - 04:32 PM
The Villan 11 Nov 06 - 04:40 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Nov 06 - 05:09 PM
Grab 11 Nov 06 - 05:49 PM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Nov 06 - 08:44 PM
ClaireBear 11 Nov 06 - 09:12 PM
JohnInKansas 11 Nov 06 - 11:49 PM
Snuffy 12 Nov 06 - 10:20 AM
danensis 12 Nov 06 - 12:27 PM
JohnInKansas 12 Nov 06 - 12:38 PM
Ebbie 12 Nov 06 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,sorefingers 12 Nov 06 - 01:49 PM
Rowan 12 Nov 06 - 05:14 PM
Peace 12 Nov 06 - 06:31 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Nov 06 - 06:50 PM
The Fooles Troupe 12 Nov 06 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,thurg 12 Nov 06 - 09:09 PM
GUEST 12 Nov 06 - 09:30 PM
Rowan 12 Nov 06 - 11:03 PM
GUEST,thurg 12 Nov 06 - 11:24 PM

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Subject: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: ClaireBear
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 06:03 PM

As part of creating a new corporate style guide for a major worldwide tech company, I am tasked with creating a guide to converting documents from U.S. English (in which this company produces its documents [and in which I write]) to UK English (which is preferred by many of the company's sales regions).

I have found many vocabulary/spelling/punctuation/syntax conversion sites online, but all the ones I've found either do what appears to be a very good job on the UK English (but what do I know?) but get the U.S. completely wrong -- or do a good job on American English but go completely over the top on (or show very little understanding of) the UK conversion.

I am trying to wade my way through these and glean only the best from each, but as my knowledge of UK English stems largely from my keen appetite for 19th c. and earlier English novels, I am not terribly confident that I know how the 21st c. English reader will expect a computer data sheet to read.

An English friend brought me a pretty good dictionary (Chambers) of UK English, but Chambers seems to be more US English-friendly than I believe this company's English staff want me to be (e.g., the dictionary converts most words I think should end in "-ise" in UK English to "-ize" claiming that "-ise" is old fashioned. If that's actually true, that's fine -- but I rather suspect it is not true. My ten-volume Oxford is at the other end of the spectrum, but then again it's even older than I am, so that's hardly surprising.

So...can anyone recommend a book or a Web site that covers this subject with an equal amount of erudition regarding both versions of the language?

Thank you,
Claire


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 08:25 PM

One simple thing you can consider is setting the "correct" language in Word and running spell check. There is a choice between US or UK English there, and when set in Word the setting is applied to all other Microsoft Office programs. When you set a new language, spellcheck should switch automatically to using the appropriate dictionary. As there's lots of crossbreeding/inbreeding between the languages, I can't say how strictly the associated dictionaries will distinguish between the two languages.

You may have to reinsert your installation disk the first time you change to a new language, but once installed the language choice should choose the appropriate dictionary for the spell check.

Note that there is some difference in keyboards as well, and you may find things "in the wrong place" if you don't switch back to the language that matches your keyboard.

In Word, "Tools|Language|Set Language."

There are a number of other things that can be set to be more appropriate to the particular language, with the most basic entries at "Options," some additional possibly at "Customize," and likely some in "AutoCorrect."

A "sort of" definitive reference is Developing International Software, Second Edition
Author: Dr. International   
Pages: 1104
Disk: 1 Companion CD
Level: All Levels
Published 10/09/2002
ISBN 0-7356-1583-7

(For those who might look at the link, it's to http;//thesource.ofallevil.com - and it is a Microsoft site. Links to discount sellers are provided for this book [not exactly a best seller].)

I doubt this book would be of a great lot of help in your task, since it does deal primarily with software, but the really desparate might find some help with getting the software they might need for using some of the features available in standard Windows/Office.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 09:01 PM

The thing is, people here are accustomed to having stuff about computers written in America-speak, and don't have much trouble in understanding it. And there are some cases where the American spelling has become the accepted one in that context, even in English.

For example "program" meaning computer program is now seen as the correct spelling, even though "programme" is correct spelling in all other contexts. For example, we'd watch TV programmes, and but a programme when we went to the theatre.

That kind of thing means that spell checkers aren't necessarily too reliable. The one I'm using at present recognises both "program" and "programme" as valid spellings - but of course gives no indication of when they are correct and when they are wrong.

And that unreliability of spell-checkers as a guide to correct spelling applies to a lot of other words as well. For example, there are many words where "ce" and "se" are both correct - but they mean something different (eg licence and license). Again a word like "tire" is perfectly good (non-American) English for what happens when you get exhausted, but it wouldn't be right for the "tyre" on the wheel of a car.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Gurney
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 11:21 PM

Bite the bullet and hire a Pom to proofread before publication. Most English/Aussie/Kiwi speakers can understand American English easily enough, so an English-English specialist should have no trouble. You could strike trouble with technical and chemical terms (Methylated Spirit is a denatured alchohol, but is it Denatured Alchohol?).

Have you heard the story about the Portugese who published an English-language guide to Portugal? Unfortunately, he didn't speak English, but he did have a Portugese-French dictionary and a French-English dictionary.....


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 01:33 AM

If you're working for business publication, it would be considered "good practice" to have someone other than the author, or in this case the translator, to do a proof reading just to catch the typos and other "little things" that creep in. In your case, finding a proofer who's experienced with UK English would be the obvious way of getting a good UK-English text.

Many very good "proofers" work freelance, and you can work via email with them. Finding a good one may take a bit of work, but the benefit to be had can be well worth it. In your case you'd have the little extra of finding a "Brit" proofer, but it shouldn't really be too difficult. A quick Google for "proofreader" might indicate whether there's a handy covey of them somewhere in your region. You might find someone via a search for "Temporary Employment" agencies, but some of these have a tendency to "promise everything" regardless of the skills or lack thereof of the people they offer.

Many of the major publishing companies keep a roster of freelancers, and usually are willing to share recommendations, since it's to their own advantage to keep their best ones occupied (and happy) when they don't have work of their own for them.

In my own area, I'd probably just drop in at the overpriced "atmosphere" pub where all the green card Brits hang out and ask if one has a wife (with her own greencard?) who'd be interested, ... (in proofreading) ... maybe.

Using a separate proofer in no way denigrates the author. It's a mark of professional work that your business should be willing, if not eager, to use.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 02:29 AM

Agreed you need a native English speaker. You need an educated one with a familiarity with the subject matter. You will still be left with infelicities in the final result. I did French-English translation about fluid control valves for Elliot-Automation in Alsace decades ago, I met all the criteria, and I could still see problems with the result, but not find acceptable ways to remedy them.

Under NO circumstances trust Microsnot to achieve a result that is (a) accurate or (b) English.

Part of the problem is that there are, regrettably, many English speakers, some educated, who seem happy with what other English speakers will regard as utter solecisms. Examples are split infinitives, "try and" in stead of "try to" and numbers of "alternatives" that exceed two.

The English usage of "which" and "that" also differs from the AAmerican, but although I feel the difference when I see it, I am not sure that I could enunciate a rule.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: The Villan
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 02:54 AM

My wifes a freelance translator, but translates from English to Dutch for top translation companies and has been doing that for the last 30 years.
However she does have contact with very good professional translators/proofreaders who work freelance.
Its very important to get it proofread as what goes out is all about your company. It can either look good or bad and can send the wrong message out about your company.

If you would like her to recommend somebody, then please let me know.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: The Villan
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 03:01 AM

I take that back. Most of her contacts are project managers. Sorry about that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 03:21 AM

If there's payment involved, please contact me

Robin
(Wordsmith)

P.S. I do this sort of thing for free for friends, but if a commercial entity wants it, then us unemployed really don't want to give it away for free... :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 03:24 AM

PPS - I do 'Australian English' - which does not mean including rude words :-) but is much closer to UK English (as we were taught in school) than US English.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 03:28 AM

Spare a passing thought for the 'Clear English' campaign too - the quest to eradicate jargon and unnecessary over-egging of the pudding to the extent that the simple printed instructions for erecting a Swedish flatpack furniture store caffitiere storage unit become so unreadable (as opposed to illegible) that the customer is left in some considerable doubt as to whether screw A goes in slot B or whether they should just physically manhandle the object into the refuse department of the most conveniently juxtaposed Civic Amenity site or appropriate container.

OK?

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: GUEST, Topsie
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 08:32 AM

If you want to find a proffessional proofreader, the British

Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders

have an online directory.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: GUEST, Topsie
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 08:33 AM

and I really should have proofread my post before I submitted it!


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Les from Hull
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 09:08 AM

Part of the problem is that language is constantly changing. And under the careful attention of Microsoft, it's probably changing faster than some of us like.

For instance, I would always use the -ise rather than -ize, but other changes from what I was taught at school I can readily accept. To casually split an infinitive is no problem to me, neither do I bother what I end a sentance with. The way that compound nouns start with two words, gain a hyphen and then end up as one word travels at different speeds for different people.

So it's not just UK Technical English. It's UK Technical English to suit a particular group. The best advice I could give would be to allow feedback so that anyone who is really bothered about what they read can contact you. But in my experience people with 'technical' somewhere in their job specification are slightly less worried about the style of what they read than others. I had the job of teaching some of these people how to write in plain English, and it seemed that not many of them were really that bothered.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 09:16 AM

Some of us would prefer to end a sentence, rather than a sentance, too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: GUEST,...
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 10:03 AM

My 'Shorter' (2 volumes) Oxford Dictionary uses -ize, which is useful for checking the words that have to use -ise. These are usually those ending with -vise, words to do with seeing, such as supervise and televise, or -cise, words to do with cutting, such as incise.
I generally find the Longmans dictionaries useful for pointing out UK/US variations.
What is important is to be consistent. For any piece of writing, where a word can be spelled in more than one way, decide which spelling you are going to use, and stick to it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: OtherDave
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 10:05 AM

Gurney's comment above almost certainly refers to Pedro Carolino, who produced The New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and English in the mid 1880s. An American edition, with an introduction by Mark Twain, appeared in 1883.

Carolino didn't himself speak English; he appears to have had a Portuguese-French dictionary and an English-French dictionary, through both of which he dragged his thoughts.

Dover Press, bless them, reprinted most of this wonderful nonsense as "Fractured English as She is Spoke," though that seems to be out of print.

As the preface says, "A choice of familiar dialogues, clean of gallicisms, and despoiled phrases, it was missing yet to studious portuguese and brazilian Youth; and also to persons of others nations, that wish to know the portuguese language. We sought all we may do, to correct that want....without to acch us selves (as make some others) almost at a literal translation..."


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 12:24 PM

You might want to get ahold of the 1999 version of Fowler's Modern English Usage (Oxford), which bears only a nebulous relationship to the original Fowler's but which has much info. on Brit vs. Yank English. It's edited by one Robert Allen; his grasp of the subtleties of North American English is a little slippery, but I think it's safe to assume that he would not have gotten the job if he didn't have a pretty good handle on standard British English. Also, he's not overly impressed with the Victorian grammarians (which is to say, he's not one of those who believe that all the grammar they were taught in school is necessarily correct. Note: that's those who believe, not those who believes!).


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 01:22 PM

Les implies that being relaxed about the use of split infinitives is a modern development. The truth is - as forcefully recognised by "the original Fowlers" back in the 1920s - split infinitives as such have always been perfectly acceptable English. The point is to avoid using them in such a way as to lose clarity or read clumsily. And there is no difference between American English and English English in this respect.

"A real split infinitive, though not desirable in itself, is preferable to either of two things, to real ambiguity and to patent artificiality."

(And HW Fowler himself all those years ago wasn't too impressed with "the Victorian grammarians" either, especially the ones who thought that the rules worked out for Latin grammar should apply to English, which is where the fetish about split infinitives has its origins.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Snuffy
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 01:25 PM

How do you split a a Latin infinitive?


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: GUEST, Topsie
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 01:40 PM

Exactly, Snuffy, you don't.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 01:54 PM

So the idea was that you should keep the "to" next to the verb and treat it all as one without splitting it - sort of pretending it was all one word, and therefore it couldn't be split. Except that's not the way English really works.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: ClaireBear
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 02:06 PM

I am delighted to see that this thread has prospered while I was away sleeping.

I can see that I have not explained my position thoroughly. I am not a writer; I am an editor/proofreader by trade who writes, and given the proper tools I am confident I can do this job adequately. (And Liz, never fear, what I do with my day is convert techspeak to English!)

Another fact I omitted: I don't work for the tech firm in question, I work for an a small agency that has a goodly chunk of the firm's marketng communications business. The firm has enough confidence in our work to trust me to take on their style guide project (which is nearing 200 pages and has many more to go).

Unfortunately, we haven't the resources to take on more staff -- although we do have one English employee in another office whose acquaintance I plan to make before this project is completed. We've already asked the firm to supply us with the resources they use, but all they did was point me to some publicly available (and rather flawed) Web resources. I can do better than that!

Thank you very kindly for all your information. I rather imagine that, if there were one "right" resource to consult, someone would have mentioned it by now. The fact that no one has done so leads me to believe that, at least, I am not missing the obvious. And I had already included all the facts you've collectively detailed above in my guide, which gives me some additional comfort.

By the way, the words the Chambers dictionary "zeddifies" (and BTW AskOxford, the online Oxford Compact, seems to agree) include "organise" and "realise." The "-ise" spellings are listed as secondary. Do those of you who speak UK English think this is correct? I'm quite sure I've seen documents coming out of the firm's European offices that spell both of these with "-ise."

JohninKansas, I had also thought to reset the language in Word, and that helped some...but as McGrath points out, the UK English setting will accept both spellings of many words. I have no problem spotting and correcting what I know are homonyms in AmSpeak but not necessarily in UK English (tire and tire/tyre, pry and pry/prise...), but it is rather frustrating not to be able to have confidence that Word is flagging the Americanisms I don't know about.

I'm also concerned about differences that have nothing to do with spelling, examples of which include the non-use of serial commas, the addition of hyphens after prefixes in many places where we would not use them, the which/that controversy, and the different approach to the use of quotation marks. All of these are included in the guide already, and I think I understand them fairly well...the trouble is, as one American poet (give the link a minute to load; there's a splash page first) whose backside I am happy to see exiting the halls of power so eloquently put it:

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

- D.H. Rumsfeld


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: ClaireBear
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 02:09 PM

Thurg, thanks for reminding me about the 1999 Fowler's; I think I have that stashed away somewhere!


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 02:17 PM

Have you come across Lynne Truss's book Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Claire?

It was a Christmas bestseller last year, and is great fun, but also quite helpful in stuff like variable use of commas. (That website will let you see if you're likely to agree with that.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: ClaireBear
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 02:25 PM

I have it at my desk, McGrath, and despite its occasional inaccuracies it is indeed quite helpful, comma-wise.

The example a friend once gave me for why serial commas may be a good idea runs as follows:

"I would like to thank my parents, God and Ayn Rand."

Cheers,
Claire


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: GUEST, Topsie
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 03:10 PM

Claire, some UK publishers prefer a serial comma (sometimes referred to as the 'Oxford comma') and others don't. Others still are happy to follow the author's preference, so long as it is consistent throughout the book or article.
The same applies to -ise/-ize, though -ize is becoming more common. There are some words that always use -ise, but I think the only word that always uses -ize is 'galvanize' (but I could be wrong about that). Beware of 'analyse' and 'paralyse', which are always 's' in UK English but can have a 'z' in American.
On hyphens the rule is to be consistent, but watch out for ambiguity: 'recreation' and 're-creation', or 'the dark-blue sea' and the dark, blue sea'.
On which or that, the presence or absence of a comma is the important thing: there is a difference between 'government officials who are corrupt ... ' = just the corrupt ones, and 'government officials, who are corrupt ...' = they are all corrupt. The same rule applies to which/that, who, and when, but usually you would use 'which' after a comma and 'that' when there is no comma, as in 'the wind that shakes the barley'.
On quotation marks and punctuation, US practice is easier - all commas and full points go inside; in the UK they go inside only if what is inside the quotation marks is a proper sentence starting with a capital letter.
I hope that helps and isn't too confusing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: ClaireBear
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 03:31 PM

Hmmm, my understanding of the which/that issue in UK English (unlike American English, which uses the rule you cited) is that one uses "which" to identify the subject of the phrase/clause that follows, and "that" to identify its object, as:

"The apples which lie on the table"

vs.

"The apples that I found"

Is the above no longer true?

Claire


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: GUEST, Topsie
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 04:22 PM

I haven't come across that distinction being recommended.

Anyone else?


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 04:29 PM

Is is possible the way 'z' or 's' is used depends on the way it is usually pronounced in the culture? I tend to say 'organize' with a hard 'z' sound, but I'm sure others say 'organise' with the softer 's' sound.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 04:32 PM

Does anyone out there say it with an "s" sound? Letz hear from you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: The Villan
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 04:40 PM

Yes I say it with an s.

However I am a brummie and I am assured it sounds like a Z LOL


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 05:09 PM

I've never understood "which" and "that". I think of them as interchangeable - but I must use them differently, because WORD keeps on telling me I've doing it wrong, and I always find that the way it wants me to put it feels wrong, so I don't.

Spellings aside, I'm not sure there really is much formal difference between American and English usage, it's more at an individual level, and there are fashions, but I don't think they run along national lines. For example, I tend to prefer using commas pretty extensively. I noticed this when I was reading Lynn Truss's book.

One place where there a national difference though is when it comes to using "one" as a pronoun. In English English it is never right to use any other pronoun along with it. "If one climbs a mountain he can see a long way" can never be right - but I believe in American it could be. But I rather doubt if that would be likely to crop up in a technical manual. (The odd thing is that, if the sentence was "If someone climbs a mountain they can see a long way", that would be fine, but neither "one can" nor "he can" would sound right.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Grab
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 05:49 PM

"S" all the way for me, rather than "Z". Dictionaries may say "Z", but I remember that when I was a kid looking up rude words, our dictionary said that "shit" meant "expelling gas from the anus" or some similar phrasing, which kind of exposed how accurate dictionaries sometimes aren't.

McGrath, the problem with "one" is that unless you happen to be a silver-spoon-in-the-gob upper-class individual, it's difficult to get away with saying "if one climbs a mountain". An instruction manual that says "one must insert screw A into hole B" is shouting at the top of its voice, "English is not my first language!".

To be honest, if you do a spelling check in your preferred word processor with the language set to UK English, to filter out "tire" and insert "U" in the appropriate places, it's highly unlikely that there'll be anything wrong. The variations in "English as she is spoke" around the UK are so wide that no-one's ever going to notice. The only difference after that is in things that have different meanings in the two countries - pavement/sidewalk, boot/trunk, etc.. Grammar is really not something you need to worry about.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 08:44 PM

Pedant on...

""A real split infinitive, though not desirable in itself, is preferable to either of two things, to real ambiguity and to patent artificiality.""

Commas are often wrongfully used (used wrongfully!) where Colons and Semicolons should be used...

viz...

"A real split infinitive, though not desirable in itself, is preferable to either of two things; to real ambiguity and to patent artificiality."

Now in "English as she is spoke", even though they are separate concepts (the full stop, comma, colon and semicolon!) one can usually get away with this laxity, but in Computer programming languages no such promiscuity of "concept smearing" is allowed - if you want the Astronauts to get back alive...

Pedant off....


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: ClaireBear
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 09:12 PM

Someone who shall remain nameless, but who is a longtime Catter and an old friend (Oops! almost typed fiend! Sorry, Dave!), once dubbed me "the Queen of Punctuation" -- so I think I can probably do an adequate job with the commas, semicolons, and colons. LOL.

Claire


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 11:49 PM

Probably not news to ClaireBear, but some others may not realize that in Word one has not only the spellcheck dictionary, which can be changed by swapping languages, but also a Grammar check and AutoCorrect and Autoreplace functions.

It's helpful to know in what order things happen with respect to these functions.

The base spellcheck dictionary cannot be modified, so you can't delete words from it. You can add words to your own "custom dictionary" if you find ones that are not in the dictionary.

Spellcheck runs first, so if there's a word that is in the spellcheck dictionary that you don't want, you "delete" it by entering, in the AutoCorrect dictionary, the "correctly spelled" word that spellcheck inserts, so that after Spellcheck inserts the word, AutoCorrect replaces it with the word you want. Replace "tire" with "tyre," as an example.

AutoCorrect also "trumps" (comes after) the Grammar check and AutoFormat, so that if you allow the program to "correct initial caps," which changes TOP SECRET to Top Secret, entering a Change "Top Secret" to "TOP SECRET" in AutoCorrect lets you automatically change it back to "TOP SECRET" after SpellCheck and AutoFormat both think they've fixed it. This can be really handy with some company names (especially Brit ones) that have formats like xXxXXXx ('cause it's cute).

This is also how one eliminates the need to use WordImPerfect in order to get their "legal spellcheck dictionary"1 that deletes "trail" from the spelling dictionary. Just enter in AutoCorrect: "trail" to "trial."

1 The only known sem-rational reason for adoption of WierdPerfect by nearly all legal firms a couple of decades ago.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Snuffy
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 10:20 AM

But auto-correct can't tell when to change it and when to leave it alone: "Don't tire yourself out: let me change that tire for you" needs only the second instance changing to "tyre" to make it English English.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: danensis
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 12:27 PM

"A real split infinitive, though not desirable in itself, is preferable to either of two things, to real ambiguity and to patent artificiality."

Shouldn't this be:
"A real split infinitive, though not desirable in itself, is preferable to either of two things, real ambiguity or patent artificiality."?


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 12:38 PM

Snuffy -

It's quite true that you do have to manage the exceptions. You do that during the typing where a Ctl-Z backs out the change. As long as you watch what's happening, repeated Ctl-Z will back up anything resulting from the last character typed, if you do it before you continue typing.

My experience with "technical manuals" would indicate that very little translation actually is needed. I've worked extensively with Brit/Canadian/Italian "owned" US companies in which "deviant English" of all kinds appears, and if the manuals are technically sound there seems to be very little problem with proper usage by all concerned.

The aircraft industry, and to some extent a few others, do use a "standard simplified English" for repair manuals, identical for all users, and Japanese and Chinese maintenance workers, at the repair line level, seem to have no problems with it. Use of this "language" is mandatory for ATA certified equipement. Separate US/UK manuals are not (usually) produced for shared NATO hardware.

There is a link near the bottom of the page linked above to "help programs," or a Google (I used "Simplified English International") will find a number of "checker programs" specific to the use of this Simplified English version. The system is quite good for describing "objects" and "processes" but comes up a bit short for discussing philosophy and metaphysics.

Of course different people have different definitions of "technical," and the one with the checkbook gets to say what's wanted.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Ebbie
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 01:39 PM

I've been curious for some time about the spelling in one instance. Up above Grab wrote "no-one", I believe I've seen it written by UKers as 'noone' and in the US we spell it 'no one'. ?


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 01:49 PM

writhing with fits of laughter, you guys are so funny!

...seriously if you really want qualified help, the best source of correct UK English today is the plain English campaign by the BBC, and those who supply it with talent, to-wit editors of UK English popular newspapers, and others in the UK who are doing that type of work. But, don't be fooled into getting any Pom who sounds like they know what you need, for example, a proof reader with a romance-novel mill would not be any use at all to you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Rowan
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 05:14 PM

Dictionaries have different rules about word definitions, which might affect how much weight you give their recommendations. The Oxford (in its full manifestation) attempts to record usage and etymology; it is excellent at providing info on 'First Usage'. The Macquarie (OK, I know you're all on about US/UK English) records current usage, no matter how infelicitous it seems. I don't know the policy for Chambers.

McGrath's comment "When Lynne Truss's book Eats, Shoots and Leaves" reminded me of a couple of things. Many would prefer the apostrophe to be bare of the subsequent "s", so that his comment would read "Lynne Truss' book Eats, Shoots and Leaves". When Lynne Truss visited Australia she told the story that she had published it before she'd heard the old Australian joke about the American who was called a wombat when he left his partner 'the morning after'. The punchline required the dictionary definition of a wombat, given as an animal that "eats, roots, shoots and leaves."

And, while you're at it, make sure your software presents date formats appropriately for the target audience.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Peace
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 06:31 PM

Hire a translator.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 06:50 PM

Shouldn't this be:
"A real split infinitive, though not desirable in itself, is preferable to either of two things, real ambiguity or patent artificiality."?


No - that wouldn't have been an accurate quote. And while the amendment danensis suggest is OK (apart from having the full stop preceding a question mark at the end, I think Fowler's version has a better rhythm, as well as being perfectly grammatical, as is only to be expected.
..........................
Many would prefer the apostrophe to be bare of the subsequent "s", so that his comment would read "Lynne Truss' book Eats, Shoots and Leaves".

And many wouldn't. I think it'd be quite wrong. I can't imagine that anyone would ever be likely to actually pronounce it that way, particularly with a one syllable name.
.......................

I think the "Eats shoots and leaves" joke most often involves a Giant Panda. But probably not in Australia.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 07:07 PM

" is preferable to either of two things, real ambiguity or patent artificiality."

Either is suitable Australian English.


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 09:09 PM

"Up above Grab wrote "no-one", I believe I've seen it written by UKers as 'noone' and in the US we spell it 'no one'."

"No-one" has become quite common in the US; I believe it's the standard spelling used in the New Yorker, for example. "Noone" is positively barbaric.

I can't for the life of me imagine why anyone, including the proofreaders at the New Yorker, would feel the need to alter the perfectly sensible and unambiguous "no one".


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 09:30 PM

I used to do the opposite (English to American) while working for a commercial printing company working for the publisher Heinemann.

Let me know if I can help.

Linn


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: Rowan
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 11:03 PM

McGrath raises an interesting point about the differences between the language we speak ("Lynne Truss's book") and the language we write for reading ("Lynne Truss' book). Like most here, I'd speak it the way McGrath wrote it but I was always taught to write it the way I did. I suppose you'd have to consider the audience for whom you're writing, which is what the thread started on. As a person who has had to write technically I've learned 'what is expected' in the various fields. But I've also felt obliged to recompose a passage which reads (to my eyes) correctly in the technical idiom but which sounds cumbersome or awkward if read as it would be spoken.

I'd never even heard of Giant Pandas when I first heard the wombat joke (in Melbourne) in about 1952. It wasn't the first smutty joke I heard but the "Eats, roots, shoots and leaves" stayed in my memory because the wordplay connotation appealed to my nascent knowall tendencies. I'm still having trouble with them.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Tech US to UK English advice please
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 11:24 PM

For some time now, the s-apostrophe-s as in "Truss's" has been the
"prefered" form, both in writing and in pronunciation. I can't quote you chapter and verse off the top of my head, but I think you'll find this in any reputable book on style from the last thirty years or so, at least. I have a feeling that even Fowler, back in the '20's (prefered modern style: "20s"), recommended this usage.

Just checked my 1999 so-called "Fowler's", and there is a little more ambiguity than I have indicated above; to wit: "Add 's to names that end in s when you would pronounce them with an extra s in speech (e.g. Charles's, Dickens's ... ); but omit 's when the word is normally pronounced without the extra s (e.g. Bridges', Connors', Mars' ... )." Not terribly helpful, is it?


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