Luxembourg’s submerged language comes to the surface

Thanks to my former colleague Alan Fisk. He has kindly allowed me to post this article he wrote for a magazine in about 1993. In the streets of the city of Luxembourg, all the signs and public notices are in French. Buy a newspaper, and it will be mainly in German. Here and there, messages…… Continue reading Luxembourg’s submerged language comes to the surface

Writing English to help second-language readers

I’ve spent much of the last 28 years writing or editing documents for a readership that includes many readers who didn’t learn English from birth. In this post, I give some tips on writing more clearly to help readers with English as a second language.  General advice on writing plain English is not enough to…… Continue reading Writing English to help second-language readers

German and English Academic Usage and academic translation

I have just started reading German and English Academic Usage and Academic Translation (2021), by Dirk Siepmann. This starts with an exercise of translating a short passage of German academic text. It is only one paragraph, though quite a long one: Seit Mitte der 1980er Jahre hat Michel Espagne sukzessive das Themenfeld des interkulturellen Transfers…… Continue reading German and English Academic Usage and academic translation

Please clear up after your horse

I’ve heard of taking your pooper scooper to clear up after your domestic animal, but this is taking a good idea to extremes.“Pferdemist” = horse manure. Arosa, Switzerland, 2018

Is the Committee in Basel or Basle?

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision describes itself as the primary global standard setter for bank regulation. It is based in Basel, Switzerland. When I first started work, the usual English name for the Committee contained the spelling Basle, rather than the German spelling Basel. Pronunciation Oddly, though, although the English spelling contains an <s>,…… Continue reading Is the Committee in Basel or Basle?

Translation and food packaging

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that UK retailer Tesco mis-translated chocolate powder into Czech. Tesco had translated it as čokoládový prašek (‘chocolate powder’) but the official Czech version of the EU Cocoa and Chocolate Products Directive uses čokoláda v prašku (‘chocolate in powder‘). The Czech authorities prosecuted Tesco and after…… Continue reading Translation and food packaging

‘must not’ in English and German

The English modal verb must and its German counterpart muss are cognates—they share the same origin and similar meanings. But when they are negated, they behave in different ways. English Barbara must not go means that it is required that Barbara does not go.On the other hand, German Barbara muss nicht gehen means that Barbara…… Continue reading ‘must not’ in English and German

Test your languages online (2)

I’ve written before about the University of Westminster’s online diagnostic quiz for Norwegian, Swedish and Hungarian. Test your languages online – Language Miscellany I’ve now tried their quiz for some of the other languages. Here are my results for all the ones I took. The results are marked out of 50. German and French For…… Continue reading Test your languages online (2)

UnEnglish Anglicism

Anglicism of the year in German for 2019 was a phrase that is made of English words, but isn’t English at all. “for future”, created by Greta Thunberg. Laudatio zum Anglizismus des Jahres 2019: … for Future | Sprachlog As Anatol Stefanowitsch commented on Sprachlog, what makes this phrase sound so odd is the lack…… Continue reading UnEnglish Anglicism