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God Save English

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jeremy Gardner

on 20 November 2016

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Transcript of God Save English

A guide to misused terms in EU English
How can it be useful?

Both EU staff and the general public

God Save the English
a archaic : to check, test, or verify by evidence or experiments

b : to incorporate suitable controls in <a controlled experiment

2 a : to exercise restraining or directing influence over

b : to have power over

c : to reduce the incidence or severity of
intransitive verb
Control verb: Merriam-Webster dictionary
the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events
the ability to manage a machine, vehicle, or other moving object
the restriction of an activity, tendency, or phenomenon, the ability to restrain one’s own emotions or actions
a means of limiting or regulating something
a switch or other device by which a device or vehicle is regulated
the place from which a system or activity is directed or where a particular item is verified
Control noun: Oxford dictionary
Explanation: Fiche is a useful word, but it is French. Its only use in English is to indicate the (somewhat outdated) microfiche.

Example: 'Where other information contained in the product information fiche is also provided, it shall be in the form and order specified in Annex III'.
Alternative: Sheet/document.
Fiche (3)
Definition of fiche
"noun - short for microfiche"
Definition of FICHE
First Known Use of FICHE: 1951
Fiche as foreseen in UK and US dictionaries
The selection process
Categories of words :
What is the list and how is it fed?
Internal documents
Contacts with member countries

“... reports should be drafted for the attention of an interested but non-expert reader who is not necessarily familiar with the detailed EU or audit context” .
Our target audience - ECA performance audit manual)
Published work
Published work
Does it matter? (1)

“According to this strategy, in 2013 and 2014, the Commission and the other stakeholders will draw up technology roadmaps that focus on innovation and the deployment of technologies in ten critical areas of transport, including the development of vehicles that are clean, efficient, safe, quiet and smart”.
determine the behaviour or supervise the running of
 maintain influence or authority over
limit the level, intensity, or numbers of
remain calm and reasonable despite provocation
regulate (a mechanical or scientific process):
(control for) take into account
Control verb: Oxford dictionary
Fiche (2)
Fiche (2)
Contradictory procedure
Sickness Insurance
Words that are difficult to avoid

Independent variety of English, jargon or just plain wrong ?
EU/International English
What do we mean by correct English ?
Published Work (2)
Does it matter?
What is wrong with our English?
Special status for English is foreseen in Cyprus and Malta
The English Speaking World

Does it matter ?
I think it does, because fundamentally they have to speak to the outside world, and while the ambiguity and muddiness helps them to make the kind of political compromises here that need to be made in a project like this – they allow leaders to agree to things that otherwise, if they were explained in plain English, would be political death for them at home, but it does mean that there is a bigger disconnect between the project here and the people it is supposed to serve.
Can you give me an idea of how that translates into practice? What you are saying is that they get away with things that they shouldn’t be able to get away with because we don’t quite know what it is they are doing?
Indeed, Herman van Rompuy, the EU president once sang the virtues of “asymmetric translation” .....
Published work (3)

“The strategy foresees in 2013-2014 the definition with stakeholders of technology roadmaps focusing on the deployment of technologies and innovation in ten critical areas of transport including clean, efficient, safe, quiet and smart road vehicles”.
I beg your pardon?

“The strategy foresees in 2013-2014 the definition with stakeholders of technology roadmaps focusing on the deployment of technologies and innovation in ten critical areas of transport including clean, efficient, safe, quiet and smart road vehicles”.

: a member of the Germanic peoples conquering England in the fifth century a.d. and forming the ruling class until the Norman conquest — compare angle, jute, saxon
a : englishman; specifically : a person descended from the Anglo-Saxons
b : a white gentile of an English-speaking nation
: old english 1
: direct plain English; especially : English using words considered crude or vulgar
The Commission makes controls on all expenditure several years after the actual year of a given payment, primarily at programme closure.
The European Parliament notes that the Court of Auditors carries out its controls on these institutions separately from the Commission controls and underlines that the final element of the accountability chain should be the democratic control through the discharge granted by Parliament.
“The strategy foresees in 2013-2014 the definition with stakeholders of technology roadmaps focusing on the deployment of technologies and innovation in ten critical areas of transport including clean, efficient, safe, quiet and smart road vehicles”.
Where's Wally/Waldo
Both native and non-native speakers
as a reference document for your own writing;
as a key to understanding original English texts;
as a key to understanding translations;
for general interest
Grammar (articles, tenses, gerunds/ infinitives)
Word order (adverb position, too much distance between subject and verb),
Punctuation (commas, particularly in relative clauses, decimal commas)
Impersonal style (passives, third person constructions)
Nominal style
What is the list and how is it fed?
What is “EU English”?
What do we mean by correct English?
Internal documents
Contacts with member countries
We are creating unnecessary problems for translators
Potential legal problems
It may give the impression that we are hiding something
Use of jargon may create an impression of incompetence and or/arrogance;
Most potential readers are monolingual and do not necessarily have the ability to interpret our language;
We should not put the onus on our readers to have to search for the meaning of words;
Work published in English is mainly foreseen for people in the UK and Ireland, so they should be able to understand it;

There is a real risk of people misunderstanding at the other end;
Correctly drafted documents are easier to translate properly;
Many of the same issues apply, in particular:
English is the most widely spoken language in the world
There is no single “correct ” form of English
English has no governing body
No “bible” of correctness is foreseen

Usage is the main yardstick
“Global” English independent of any country- based model
Around eighty terms that are habitually used wrongly in EU publications
References and examples, mostly from published EU documents

Examples of correct terms or other ways of expressing the same concept correctly.
Rare or inexistent terms: planification, fiche, sickness insurance, informatics, telematics, comitology, to precise
In-house words and expressions used in published work: contradictory procedure, reflection group, hierarchical superior, college, budget line, cabinet, service
Words that are used with a foreign or incorrect meaning: axis, conference, dispose (of), foresee, perspective, coherent, transpose, semester, jury
Expressions that have the wrong implications: so-called, agent, Anglo-saxon , incite
Words, relating mostly to modern technology, where users ‘prefer’ a local term
The original list of around 80 based on Court working documents (document review)
Words checked against dictionaries and google
Words submitted in context to English speaking staff for comments and additions – over 200 terms

Difficult cases checked against British National Corpus, selected English/Irish staff

Outstanding cases checked against native speakers in English speaking countries
Eurlex search for published examples
Reduced to around 80 (not the original 80) and rising
Full transcript