Forestalling language criticism/Schutzverhalten beim Übersetzen

Mark Liberman at Language Log writes on the topic of popularly deprecated language usage:

Finally, I recognize the necessity to take account even of the kind of grammatical and lexicographical advice that’s entirely incompetent and mistaken: which-hunting, prepositional paranoia, they phobia, and so on. I know someone who believes deeply that wearing white pants after Labor Day is an offense against decency, and who feels entitled to explain this to me at length whenever the topic comes up. I doubt the validity of this fashion advice, and don’t care much one way or the other in any case; but I generally (well, sometimes) go along with this prejudice in order to avoid pointless arguments. Similarly, I sometimes regulate my use of which so as to avoid arguments with copy editors. It’s cowardly, I know, but there you are.

That’s something I do in translation. For instance, I sometimes restrict which to defining relative clauses and use that in non-defining ones if I think an American is going to read the translation, even though not all Americans believe that that is a rule.

I don’t usually use they as a non-gender-specific singular, although I think it can be elegant (albeit easier to use in an original text than in a translation).

Example from above link:

Subject to this Act, every person who is qualified as an elector is entitled to have their name included in the list of electors.

I think twice before I split an infinitive.

From alt.usage.english:

Certain kinds of adverbs are characteristically placed before “to”. These include negative and restrictive adverbs: “not” (“To be, or not to be”), “never”, “hardly”, “scarcely”, “merely”, “just”; and conjunctive adverbs: “rather”, “preferably”, “moreover”, “alternatively”. But placing adverbs of manner in this position is now considered good style only in legal English (“It is his duty faithfully to execute the provisions…”).

I usually capitalize defined terms (the Employer, the Company), even in short contracts, although I claim it isn’t essential. I think a lot of clients, especially in Germany, expect it.

I often use double inverted quotation marks, because they are used in Germany and the USA.

Similarly, for a readership that includes Americans I write abbreviations like Mr. and Dr. with a full stop, and even Ms. (although it doesn’t stand for anything). I imagine that if I write Dr or Mr they may think, not ‘this is British English’, but ‘this translator is uneducated’.

If a text is supposed to be in British English, I sometimes use the -ise spelling, because so many people don’t know -ize is acceptable in the UK too.

Ditto avoiding the serial comma. From Get it write:

The Texas Law Review Manual on Usage and Style, considered highly authoritative in legal circles, insists on the use of serial commas, as do a number of other reputable style manuals. The Lawyer’s Book of Rules for Effective Legal Writing, by Thomas R. Haggard, says “The serial comma is essential in legal writing because it promotes clarity” (17). Consider this sentence:

Mrs. Jones left all her money to her three children: Huey, Dewey and Louie.

Without the serial comma, the sentence does not clearly indicate that the three children are to be given equal shares of the inheritance. Quite possibly (especially if Huey were a jerk), Huey would get half the money, and Dewey and Louie would have to split the other half.

(The serial comma and the -ize spelling are standard in U.S. English, but in the UK they are associated with the Oxford University Press, which happens to publish a number of widely used style handbooks, such as New Hart’s Rules).

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