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Both side part right/part wrong to me; which one is preferred:

A) Note, though, that Don Quixote's “olde” Spanish/English has been preserved in order to retain its intended comic effect

B) Note, though, that Don Quixote's “olde” Spanish/English have been preserved in order to retain their intended comic effect

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  • I think the version without the slash is preferred, at least in formal writing. Dec 26, 2013 at 14:23
  • @PeterShor Both come with the slash!
    – Kris
    Dec 26, 2013 at 14:40
  • @Kris: except that in this case, it's not clear whether the "/" really means "or" or "and". Dec 26, 2013 at 14:46
  • @PeterShor The slash doesn't mean and.
    – Kris
    Dec 26, 2013 at 14:49
  • @Kris: but it's not clear to me that "or" makes any sense in this sentence. Which is one reason why would be better to use a version without the slash, per my first comment. Dec 26, 2013 at 14:50

3 Answers 3

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The first version is the right one all right. The oblique stands for or, so the singular its. The second is incorrect.

A) Note, though, that Don Quixote's “olde” Spanish/English has been preserved in order to retain its intended comic effect.

The language used in the Spanish (or English, as the case may be) has been preserved in order to retain its intended comic effect.

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  • This is what I will use: Note, though, that Don Quixote's “olde” Spanish (or English, as the case may be) has been preserved in order to retain its intended comic effect. Dec 26, 2013 at 15:01
  • It is not adequate to assert 'the oblique stands for or'; the slash has other usages. Wikipedia: [An additional] use of the slash is to replace the hyphen or en dash to make a clear, strong joint between words or phrases, such as "the Hemingway/Faulkner generation". We need to see more context to be sure what meaning is intended, but the 'or' version seems illogical to me (I might be wrong). Certainly, in 'black/white films', the slash stands in for 'and'. Dec 26, 2013 at 19:05
  • @EdwinAshworth No confusion. "'the Hemingway generation' (which some may want to call 'the Faulkner generation')" -- it doesn't mandate that Hemingway & Faulkner should both necessarily be addressed, as they are contemporaries -- one's generation is the other's as well. "Black/White films" is more appropriate than "Black & White films" -- the images are either black (on white) or white (on black) -- nothing can be both black and white at one time. It came to be so later in order to distinguish from color film. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slash_(punctuation)#In_English_text is clear enough.
    – Kris
    Dec 27, 2013 at 6:33
  • The Punctuation Guide advises some usages are best kept informal: The slash sometimes serves as shorthand for and, as in: He is enrolling in the JD/MBA program at Harvard. . . . Conflict or connection The slash is sometimes used to represent a conflict or connection between two things. . . .[T]he en dash can perform the same role. Slash: The Paris/London train leaves in an hour. En dash: The Paris–London train leaves in an hour. Slash: This perfectly illustrates the nature/nurture debate. En dash: . . . nature–nurture debate. Dec 27, 2013 at 10:42
  • @EdwinAshworth I tried to drive home the point that the slashed pairs never occur simultaneously. Try. HTH.
    – Kris
    Dec 27, 2013 at 14:12
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I think the "/" in this sentence plays the role of "or". So the sentence A should be sound since the author allegedly refers to either versions of the Don Quixote; English or Spanish.

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    The oblique or slash (/) is used to represent or, not and. Sometimes the context may imply as the case may be, yet only one of the alternatives applies.
    – Kris
    Dec 26, 2013 at 14:41
  • Oh sorry, but I have seen that in both cases. Then I will edit it.
    – Espanta
    Dec 26, 2013 at 15:16
  • @Kris, are you using 'yet' in your comment to say 'but in any case' or to say 'nevertheless'? Dec 26, 2013 at 16:20
  • @ElberichSchneider In the sense of 'even then' :)
    – Kris
    Dec 27, 2013 at 6:20
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Interesting. I have seen "/" to mean a combination (otherwise depicted by ":" or "[endash]", as well as "and/or" or "and or or", or "'and' or 'or'". I think you need to use what is most likely to be understood as your intended meaning. Most people would see "/" as "and/or" or "or": if this is not clear from your context, then you should revise your punctuation choice. The choice of plural or singular agreement should follow.

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