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215

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. Spanish and Portuguese texts are longer than their English counterparts by about 1/5 to 1/4. Scandinavian languages are pretty much on par with English. Swedish is a tiny bit ...


69

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 ...


39

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have the following sizes: English: 200k Portuguese: 208k Spanish: 209k German: 219k And the translations are out of date.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

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 ...


35

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 ...


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 ...


32

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 ...


32

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 ...


28

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 ...


26

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 ...


26

'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.


23

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."


20

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 ...


20

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 ...


20

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 ...


18

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 ...


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 ...


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

I tend to leave a space on both sides, like this A lot of insertions in parentheses ( well, if it's not Lisp :) ) can be annoying. also, using dashes is worth trying A lot of insertions in parentheses — well, if it's not Lisp :) — can be annoying.


17

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 ...


16

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 ...


16

The one rule remains readability. No space before a parenthesis is usually used with functions: f(x) Since your technical description of camera isn't a "function", I would still go with: phones which have camera include IPhone (5MP), Nokia N8 (12MP), Nokia X6 (3MP) That being said, if you have a consistent convention throughout your document with ...


16

It's called a slip of the pen (more common), or slip of the keyboard (less common). Either is fine, and will be understood. If you desire to be precise with your idioms, go ahead and use "slip of the keyboard". It's not in as many dictionaries/thesauruses, but people use it, and it makes enough sense that no one should misunderstand it. I also agree with ...


15

In the United States, it is customary to write "April 1, 2010", regardless of context. This is spoken, however, as "April first, 2010". I would discourage using MM/DD/YYYY (e.g. 4/1/2010) format, because this may cause confusion as the rest of the world writes the day before the month. If you really need to write dates in a consise format, I recommend ...


15

Asking for something that is both concise and comprehensive is, unfortunately, contradictory. The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition devotes one full page (5 numbered sections, 6.38-42) to "general principles" of hyphenating compound words, but then also goes on to list a 13-page table of common forms, when to hyphenate them, when not to, and when to ...


15

Never. At least not for grammatical purposes. More than one exclamation mark doesn't have any meaning. An exclamation doesn't get more "exclamationy" by more marks. Of course, you could still use them, but the interpretation would be entirely up to the reader. Use of punctuation that doesn't have any grounds in grammar would be more like decoration. I've ...


15

Are you sure your teacher said "written English", not "formal English"? Not all written English is formal, and not all formal English is written. Contractions are fine in informal English, be it written or spoken, but they are generally frowned upon in formal contexts (again, written or spoken). Forbidding contractions in all written English is stuff and ...


14

English is broad church (British English bias intended :). My preference in many circumstances would be to not unnecessarily burden yourself with removing any regional colour from your English writing. Seeking to do so will eventually only make English into a more generic and less expressive language. If the writing is online you can always make a helpful ...


14

You don't need the interposing comma. Just say I'm just calling a spade a spade. The Subaru commercials get this awkwardly wrong: It's what makes a Subaru, a Subaru. No comma needed there either. Compare the idea using two other nouns. I'm calling a spade a shovel. You would never use a comma there. And just because the nouns are the same ...



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