For context, this is an actual section heading from an actual IEC/IEEE standard. Within the context, I can understand what it is about. Hovewer, I'd like it as close as the original meaning as possible.

The following are things I'd like to know:

  1. Does it have a single exact interpretation? What is it?
  2. What is the algorithm for arriving at that interpretation?

The translation I am verifying seems to confuse "what of what" this and a few similar headings refer to, and I want to make sure if it does.

  • 1
    "[T]his is an actual section heading from an actual IEC/IEEE standard" does not qualify as context. C37.111-1999 is behind a paywall; either provide us with a copy of it or describe the section in detail. I'm not paying $100+ just to answer your question. With what little information I currently have, I'd guess that it's about how to define a public file description entry line. Nov 27, 2015 at 11:13

2 Answers 2


The IEC 60255-24 related to "Measuring relays and protection equipment -
Part 24: Common format for transient data exchange (COMTRADE) for power systems" contains both English and French text.

The title of the French section corresponding to "Public file description entry line definition" is the following:

Définition des lignes d'entrée de la section publique de description du fichier

It removes the potential ambiguity of the English expression, the literal translation in English being:

Definition of entry lines in the public section of the file description.

  • +1 I’d definitely go with your literal transcription. There’s no reason to try to shorten it any further as it’s on par with the length of the original.
    – Jim
    Nov 27, 2015 at 21:10

No syntactic considerations can help you here. You'll need the semantic, i.e, you have to understand the meaning from (as you put it) "within the context." Let's examine just the first three words. Is it a

public file-description

i.e, it's the file's description that is open to public view, or is it

public-file description

i.e., this is a description of a file that is open to public view?

You can tell only by being familiar with the standard or with the subject matter that the standard regulates.

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