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240

Speaking as a translator, I can share a few rules of thumb that are popular in our profession: Hebrew texts are usually shorter than their English equivalents by approximately 1/3. To a large extent, that can be attributed to cheating, what with no vowels and all. Spanish, Portuguese and French (I guess we can just settle on Romance) texts are longer than ...


90

The Tironian et and the modern ampersand had different origins, with the Tironian et having been invented as one of ~13,000 symbols/shorthand by Cicero's scribe, Tiro. It persisted until it succumbed to a linguistic witch hunt during the middle ages, when suspicion was cast upon it for appearing to be a rune or secret cipher. (This detail has been rightly ...


74

I found the term "grawlixes" here: The Lexicon of Comicana. Grawlixes Typographical symbols standing for profanities, appearing in dialogue balloons in place of actual dialogue. I also came across the terms "profanitype" and "symbol swearing." I think I like "grawlixes" best.


56

If your target audience is the world, then you target not only people with a knowledge of American English, British English, and so on, but also people like myself, to whom English is not a mother tongue but a foreign language. If reaching these people is important to you, then you might want to write in a relatively simple English, avoiding not only ...


44

They certainly aren't rude, but editing them with no explanation is.


44

Even though it looks like a seven, it's actually a shorthand character called a "Tironian et" From http://www.ualberta.ca/~sreimer/ms-course/course/abbrevtn.htm Tironian nota for "et" (this frequently looks like a small number "7" or, later, a "z" or a "z" inside a circle; cf. the ampersand: &): Tiro was a member of Cicero's household who ...


43

A point of reference from the website I maintain. The files where we store the translations have the following sizes: English: 200k Portuguese: 208k Spanish: 209k German: 219k And the translations are out of date. That is, there are strings in the English file that aren't yet in the other files. For Chinese, the situation is a bit different because ...


38

It is the standard orthography of English to capitalize the first person singular pronoun, as well as in contractions like I'm or I'll. This is not a universal property of written language, though—far from it. Apparently the capitalization of I comes from England sometime before the time of Chaucer. The typographists of the day dictated this change; they ...


38

Contractions definitely aren't rude to use in informal conversations. It's difficult to say why anyone would change your text on SE network that way, but it definitely isn't usual. The only reason I can come up with is that if you're not a native speaker or your English isn't good enough, someone was trying to help save your question and dramatically edited ...


34

I have always seen this written as "to-may-to to-mah-to."


33

I couldn't resist but post this! But seriously, I generally avoid ending a bracketed expression with an emoticon. One solution could however be to use square brackets: A lot of insertions in parentheses [well, if it's not Lisp :)] can be annoying. Though it's rather non-standard, it at least looks better. I'm sure almost any reader would understand ...


33

No, it would be seen as unusual, perhaps archaic. The only reason I is capitalised is that i doesn't stand out visually, and needs added visual emphasis. He, Him, and His are capitalised when referring to God (or variations thereof) in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic texts. In that context, You and Your (or more typically Thou, Thee, Thy, and Thine) would ...


33

These have also been called obscenicons. Several links on Language Log offer an in-depth look at their usage. More on the early days of obscenicons Obscenicons a century ago CALL ME... UNPRONOUNCEABLE The "word" represented by the symbols could be pronounced bleep: So people came up with a small set of conventional euphemistic readings for ...


29

All caps are typically used for either of two reasons: Visual Style Capital letters are often used on covers of magazines, in logos and artsy-typography, usually to emphasise the visual style of the letters themselves, rather than the word. (Example Image) Contextual emphasis: Capital letters can be considered a third form of emphasis, among Italics and ...


28

Writing in English was derived from writing in Latin (it's mostly the same alphabet, after all), which in turn was derived from writing in Greek — which was written from left to right. So this is why all European writing systems go from left to right: because they're derived from Greek. But why did the Greeks write from left to right? I'm not sure. They ...


27

'Multiple exclamation marks,' he went on, shaking his head, 'are a sure sign of a diseased mind.' -- Eric, Terry Pratchett More on this subject on the Discworld and Pratchett Wiki. It's just for added emphasis. I do not believe it is strictly grammatically correct, but then using ALLCAPS is not, but people do that too, emphasis once again.


25

It’s the twenty-first century! We have a much better alternative to old ASCII emoticons: Unicode! A lot of insertions in parentheses (well, if it's not Lisp ☺) can be annoying. … well, ok, I admit that I do not always like this, either. ☹


25

I would suggest writing in the version of English you are most comfortable with. That's what you'll communicate in most clearly, and everyone else will understand it from that domain.


25

sic is Latin (so, thus) and is used to call attention to an error in an original quote. Specifically, it is used when quoting another to say, "this is not a typographical, spelling or grammar error on the part of the reporter; rather, the error was in the original, and we're quoting it without change."


23

I tried to use "I" in the first version of my thesis (in mathematics). When my advisor suggested corrections, the most detailed and strongly-worded of them was to use "we"; later, I asked another young professor whether one could use "I" and she said "Only if you want to sound like an arrogant bastard", and observed that only old people with established ...


21

Both "that said" and "that being said" are common (possibly too common) and perfectly grammatical, and sufficiently formal as well. "Having said that" is also correct, but to be correct the subject in what follows must be whoever said that (usually "I"). For instance, you can say: Roses are usually red. That [being] said, they are also… But you'd have to ...


21

Capitalisation to this extent wasn't around in Old English, and I didn't remember any in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, but it seemed exist in some Shakespeare folios and not others, so it certainly hasn't been around since the beginning of written English. I found this in an actual printed book, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (David ...


21

It's fine in informal communication, email, poetry, and advertising headlines. Three would be most common. Two, four, or more is rarer. It's never "officially" correct. The people who write books about how punctuation should be used in English tolerate only two levels of enthusiasm: not enthusiastic and enthusiastic. The idea that somebody might be very ...


21

The classical punctuation to denote emphasis is the exclamation mark. However, that applies to the whole sentence. It is sometimes possible to draw a word to the end of a sentence to emphasize it instead of the whole sentence: I love kittens … not! Or if the word in question is an interjection, put it between dashes: The dessert – delicious! – had ...


19

The context that matters most is where you are located geographically (or which variety of English you otherwise wish to employ). Paul covered the case of the US: "April 1, 2010". That would surely be understood in the UK too, but to my knowledge "1 April 2010" (NB: no comma) or "1/4/2010" would be more common there. Edit: Based on some quick "research" I ...


18

You never use it in an English sentence. It is — as you've noticed in your dictionary — used in concise-format publications to take the place of words or more-space-taking formatting. It's also used in mathematics and pseudocode. But never in an English sentence.


18

I believe that says Twentieth. With an oddly formed "e" in the "eth" and both Ts crossed by a single stroke.


18

It appears that there is this story behind the difference in pronouciation: Tomato: Because of the song, tomayto, tomahto has come to be used as an expression meaning “unimportant difference.” The tomato originated in South America. The Spaniards first brought tomato seeds to Europe in the 1540s. The seeds produced a yellow tomato. Because of the ...


17

The orthography is what the orthography is, and while there are many variations allowed in certain aspects, no serious authority supports abandoning the distinction between upper and lower case. So unless you are sticking with a rebellious all-lower case spelling, a lower case "i" is always wrong.


17

Why not ask your readers to help you with copy editing? Place a short, unobtrusive notice at the very top of every new blog post: English is not my native language. If anyone would like to help improve the grammar and clarity of this post, your suggestions and contributions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Then compare their suggestions to what ...



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