Donnerstag, 30. Juni 2011

And at the beginning of sentences...

Heute ein Beitrag von Aleksandra Subic - Trainee aus Kanada

In defense of AND
Time after time, we’ve had customers come back to us with: “you can’t start a sentence with ‘and’…can you?”

There’s no denying it – we Crellins are quite fond of starting sentences with the infamous ‘and’. But, are we simply taking artistic license? Or, can we put our conjunctions where our mouth is?

Who’s right?
The naysayers may have the cautionary words of their third-grade teachers on their side, but we have something better – The Chicago Manual of Style (not to mention The Times, the BBC and others).

Here is what the Essential Guide for Writers, Editors and Publishers has to say on the subject:

“There is a widespread belief – one with no historical or grammatical foundation – that it is an error to begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but or so. In fact, a substantial percentage (often as many as 10 percent) of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions.”

Still not convinced? Then, let’s consult another well-respected authority on all things English grammar – Merriam-Webster.

“Everybody agrees that it’s alright to begin a sentence with and, and nearly everybody admits to having been taught at some past time that the practice was wrong. Most of us think the prohibition goes back to our early school days. Baily 1984 points out that the prohibition is probably meant to correct the tendency of children to string together independent clauses or simple declarative sentences with ands: “We got in the car and we went to the movie and I bought some popcorn and…”

Trust the classics
According to Merriam-Webster, ‘and’ can be found at the head of many a memorable sentence in Shakespeare’s King John (act iv, scene 1), the Gospel of St. John, xxi: 21 and other well-thumbed works.

‘And’ in the 21st century
OK, how about some contemporary examples? Can some leading newspapers and magazine finally put the debate to rest?

“Al-Qaeda is a Saudi-Egyptian alliance that was formed to topple the Saudi and Egyptian regimes and others like them. And this is why bin Laden’s death comes at a particularly bad moment for the movement he launched.” (Time magazine, 20 May 2011, page 46)

“The odds are that Serbia will get candidate status but a date to start talks may be too much to hope for. And, besides, while the arrest of Gen Mladic is a huge obstacle removed from Serbia's path, it is not the only one.” (BBC online, 27 May 2011,

“Like national governments, sporting bodies […] also raise revenue and redistribute wealth. And they are prone to poor administration and to rent-seeking.” (The Economist, 26 May 2011,

And that is enough!
So, there you have it folks – we don’t just do it because it’s cool, it’s also perfectly acceptable. Still, many commentators advise against overusing ‘and’ at the head of a sentence since it really can be too much of a good thing. And it really packs a punch when used sparingly. If you feel like you’ve moved past grade school grammar, than let ‘and’ lead the way.

Mittwoch, 15. Juni 2011

Setzen auf in English

Today, a contribution from our first intern of the year, Sophie Shepard, from Cambridge University:

Setzen auf – in English
A hard nut to crack
Setzen auf is a convenient all-purpose phrase that covers a large range of meanings. It can rarely be translated literally into English. Setzen auf is also a prime example of the pitfalls of dictionaries, online or otherwise. 
Common suggestions and problems with dictionaries
Online translations of setzen auf span from “backing horses” to “sitting down”. Even Oxford-Duden is not infallible - regardless of whether one consults the entries for setzen or simply auf, no suitable figurative translation is to be found.
Cracking the nut
Look at this example: Versandbuchhändler setzen auf elektronische Bücher.
Online book retailers are unlikely to be betting on horses by the name of ebook or making themselves comfy with a cup of tea on their cosy new ebook sofa.
The message needs to be removed from the nutshell in order to render an accurate English sentence. So what is it that the online book retailers are up to? Well, a glance at the rest of the article reveals that they are hoping to boost sales by branching out into ebooks.
Information overload
Now only one hurdle remains: shaving off all excess details to create a smooth English sentence. In the case of our online booksellers we note that the shift to ebooks is a welcome development, so how about:
Online booksellers embrace ebooks.
Further suggestions
There is no one-size-fits-all solution but here are some other suggestions for setzen auf:
1a) Schleswig-Holstein und Hamburg setzen auf Kooperation
1b) Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg agree to closer cooperation
2a) Ärzte setzen auf neue Therapie gegen Ehec-Infektion
2b) Doctors switch to new treatment in the fight against the E-coli outbreak
3a) IBM und Sybase setzen auf POWER7 für neue mCommerce-Appliance
3b) IBM and Sybase opt for POWER7 for new mCommerce Appliance
For the complete articles, see the following websites: