Apr 202009

In the late 1980s, I wrote a book called ‘Business Objectives’ for Oxford University Press. Many years on, OUP wanted a new edition. As well as updating texts, they wanted it to be American. So I found myself making changes like these:

Business Ojectives changes 1








I was blissfully unaware that the phrases on the left were Britishisms when I was writing the first book. It seems distracting images of John Cleese spring to American minds when Brits say things like ‘Right then’ so I felt pretty pleased we could provide a more universal ‘Okay’ the second time around.Business Ojectives changes 2







I also liked dropping some of the formal British vocabulary. In a world where English is becoming a work-a-day tool for so many people, it seems helpful to be dropping the formality down a notch or two.

Business Ojectives changes 3Notice the way sorry’ becomes ‘thank you’ here – so a show of concern about imposing becomes a show of appreciation. Politeness is being conveyed rather differently in the two varieties. This is a bit of a crude description, but in the re-writes, where people had been saying ‘sorry, sorry, sorry’ in British English conversations, they now began saying ‘thank you, thank you, thank you.’

So a couple of things in parting… Firstly, I do hope you don’t feel that these examples have been a waste of your time and I’m sorry if I went on a bit. And secondly, it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to write this, and thank you all so much for hanging on in here till the end.

 Posted by at 7:48 am

  One Response to “Translation observations”

  1. I got back here from an old Lynneguist post (you know how it is, you go there to look up something, and, well, one post leads to another, and, well, …)

    Anyway, as you probably know by now, Americans write “4:30”, not “4.30”, though in either case it’s pronounced “four thirty”.

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