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Recently, a government official gave me a business card that stated the official's department as "Ministry of Economy."

I did a double take, because, in my mind, I took that to mean "Ministry of Thrift" or "Ministry of Frugality" rather than the department that oversees a nation's economy.

As a non-native English speaker, I would have used "Ministry of the Economy" to refer to the latter concept.

However, a quick search online showed the usage "Ministry of Economy" to be rather prevalent. Could anyone please clear this up for me?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I am a professional translator and I use "Ministry of the Economy" because it is accurate.

As someone here has already pointed out,

"Economy" without the definite article no longer refers to a country's economy, but to thrift.

As someone else has pointed also out,

"Economics" is a science, so "Ministry of Economics" is out.

I realize I am in the minority on this - "Ministry of Economics" is in widespread usage, it's enough to Google it. I notice, however, that a huge quantity of sites that use this form are from countries that are not English speaking. In my 20-past years as a translator, I noticed that very few non-native English speakers truly understand the usage of articles in English. I work in a Slavic country and the problem here is widespread, even among people with university degrees in English philology. I suspect that it is such people who come up with "Ministries of Economy".

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Actually none of them seems to be correct. At least Ministry of Economy looks better. Take a look at Ministry of Economics.

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In England they have ministry of Finance: wiki.erepublik.com/index.php/… Which I believe again approves the logic for Ministry of Economics. –  Naji Mar 13 '13 at 19:37
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I am afraid, as an economist, I make a distinction between Economics which is a scientific discipline versus a nation's economy. Finance ministry is usually a different beast, focusing mostly on taxation and debt issue related matters. In general, economy without any article refers to the concept of efficiency or frugality or thrift whereas "the economy" or "an economy" refer to the sum total of a nation's or region's economic activities. –  Sinan Ünür Mar 13 '13 at 19:41
    
I knew the difference between Finance and Economics. As they are subjects which usually countries have a ministry for and both are related to financial affairs I gave that example. Well the first link is a governmental german webpage for Ministry of Economics. I don't think that they were careless in choosing it! –  Naji Mar 13 '13 at 19:46
    
There is a difference between Wirtschaft and Ökonomie and Wirtschaftswissenschaft. I am not sure why the English web site for a German government department should be taken as the criterion in this case when I am specifically asking about whether various government translations are correct. I pointed out the distinction between a ministry overseeing government finance versus one that oversees the nation's economy because the distinction is relevant to the question. –  Sinan Ünür Mar 13 '13 at 19:58
    
Now I see your point –  Naji Mar 13 '13 at 20:27

In the United States we have a Department of Commerce, which was originally the Department of Commerce and Labor. (It got split in twain long ago.) Government finance is the Treasury Department.

If we are constrained to use "Economy", I suggest Ministry of the Economy is better for exactly the alternate interpretation of frugality.

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Maybe I am not being clear: I am not looking for various names of departments that are somehow related to a nation's economy. I am asking whether I am correct in my instinct that it is wrong to use "Ministry of Economy" for a government department that oversees the economy. –  Sinan Ünür Mar 14 '13 at 14:18
    
Wrong is a strong word to use here. Would you settle for inferior? –  Andrew Lazarus Mar 14 '13 at 16:47

I believe it is a proper noun, since it is a title, much like The Rolling Stones or the South Pole.

By themselves, the words have different meanings, but together, they describe an organization, like Ministry of Finance, as Naji described.

In the U.S., we have similar terminology with the House of Representatives. Since it is a title, it would be strange to call it House of the Representatives.

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I am close to buying your argument except that the word representatives does not have drastically different meanings depending on whether it is preceded by the in regular usage. If it matters, Saskatchewan has a "Ministry of the Economy" whereas Afghanistan has "Ministry of Economy". Slovenia has a "Ministry of the Economy" whereas Lithuania has a "Ministry of Economy". –  Sinan Ünür Mar 13 '13 at 21:46

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