I see that today the Dutch Queen’s Day is being celebrated on the South Bank, so time to mention the presentation at the ITI conference on unclogged English last weekend.
Dr. Joy Burrough-Boenisch has spent many years editing scientific English written by native speakers of Dutch. Her book is Righting English that’s gone Dutch. Unclogged English is the name of her company.
This presentation was ideal for those of us living outside an English-speaking country. It all sounded very familiar: the unattributed alteration of one’s English in a non-grammatical direction before publication (the publishers I translate for don’t do that, but many do); the editors in Britain who have no framework to identify what has gone wrong because they don’t speak the foreign language that is causing interference (it was suggested that translators are the ideal people to train others to correct foreign English); the tendency of national ‘dialects’ of English to develop.
Joy mentioned two organizations that are attempting to train translators and others in mainland Europe in editing and negotiating: SENSE (Society of English-Native-Speaking Editors in the Netherlands) and MET (Mediterranean Editors and Translators).
The idea of this editing is not to turn everything into perfect British or U.S. English: some globalization is necessary.
I was particularly interested in considering tactics as to how to approach authors. It strikes me as easier to make a plan if I recognize that German authors are increasingly going to have my English reviewed by non-native speakers and that this is an international phenomenon, I will be more likely to devise some rules of etiquette and consider how to phrase comments to the author, rather than seguing into a rant about stupid foreigners who think they can write English. (Recent example: I was asked to change ‘in more detail’ into ‘more in detail’).
It will be worth following the activities of these organizations. Links on the sites.
One thing I’d like to know more about is typical differences in sentence structure between German and English. I change sentences around but am not conscious of a technique. Grammatical and vocabulary differences are much more obvious to me.