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Friday, May 17th 2013, 3:30pm

Ain't it improper?

Hello, LTI Family

The following is a question I just received from one of our new proofreaders, and I thought it was SO GOOD, I would post an answer (mine :giggle: ) here for everyone to think about.

Here's the question:

I've finished going through the two parts of "Cooking with Commas" and am ready to start proofreading Welcome to the Future. I just wanted to verify something. When a speaker uses improper grammar such as "ain't", should the sentence be corrected to "isn't" in order to make translating more simple?"


First I'd like to say that in our Guidelines we state the following:

"Slang and profanity usage is permitted to preserve a speaker's persona.
Indicate the regional accent of the speaker, and keep the flavor of dialect, as long as it doesn't impede readability."


But what I find interesting about Gene's question is the idea that "ain't" is "improper". Actually, bad grammar and non-standard language, are not the same thing. To most of us, undoubtedly because of what we've been taught by well-meaning moms and the education system, bad grammar and grammar errors have come to mean any set of conventions in English that differ from the formal standard (or from our interpretation of it). You might recall Mom saying, "Don't say 'ain't', Jonny. That's not correct English." But ain’t isn’t really a grammatical issue at all. 'Grammar' refers to syntax in sentences. For example, “Us goed swimming.” That's incorrect grammar, for obvious reasons.

'Ain't' is a style of informal usage that's often used for emphasis. We’re taught, and perhaps rightly so, that it ain't correct in certain settings: mostly formal ones like business letters, job applications, research and manuscript writing. But in our Guidelines, we state that expressions which express a speaker's persona should be kept as is. Can you imagine how we might correct Elvis singing 'You are nothing, but a hound dog?' :rofl: He uses 'ain't' and a double negative to express his frustration that 'You ain't nothin' but as hound dog, crying all the time'. His informal English usage preserves the tone and intent. It 'ain't' bad grammar, neither. :giggle: It's style!

Thanks, Gene, for stimulating a VERY GOOD question!

SHOW & TELL


Love ya. :loveya:

With ((hugs)) to everyone :bighug: ,
Di
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  • "4ndy" is male

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Sunday, June 1st 2014, 12:38am

I just remembered this sticking point and thought it worth mentioning because it could cause minor issues in translation:

1. 'all right' is 2 words, not one. Think of it as the opposite of 'all wrong'. We wouldn't say 'alwrong', right? This is a common error because it's often confused with already, altogether, always.

Alright has become standard informal English, insofar that I grew up with it often being used as such in printed text. It is not used to mean an opposite of "all wrong", but is rather an alternative to terms like "acceptable", "okay" and "satisfactory". This matters for translating subtitles, because writing "all right" when the speaker meant "acceptable", even if that is a dictionary-listed use of "all right", could very easily be translated to an equivalent of "perfect" by taking the words separately without their combined cultural context. Therefore, I would suggest even replacing "alright" with something more internationally well-known, such as "OK", wherever transcribers got that meaning from a speaker's tone.

Thoughts? Otherwise I'll get back to the aluminium edit war... :devillaugh:

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  • "lizardman" is male

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Sunday, June 1st 2014, 5:30pm

Great point about 'all right' possibly being confused with 'everything is good' or something like that. :) From the link you gave: Some distinguish between "alright" and "all right" by using "alright" to mean "fine, good, okay" and "all right" to mean "all correct". My feeling of the language more or less agrees with that.

I personally have no problem with 'alright' being used in transcriptions (seems like it's quite common in printed text), but I disagree with changing it to 'OK' or anything else. What is said is what is said, and any clarifications for the translators are greatly appreciated, but it's probably better to put them in the forum, as notes. This way we can have the clarification and we can be true to what is said.

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Tuesday, June 3rd 2014, 8:52pm

Thanks for the input, Andy. I''m with Boris on this one, based on what I've learned from University. By the way, what is the "aluminium edit war"?
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  • "AlexAnderson2050" is male

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Tuesday, April 28th 2015, 2:25pm

No need to change 'alright' with 'OK'.

I personally have no problem with 'alright' being used in transcriptions (seems like it's quite common in printed text), but I disagree with changing it to 'OK' or anything else. What is said is what is said, and any clarifications for the translators are greatly appreciated, but it's probably better to put them in the forum, as notes. This way we can have the clarification and we can be true to what is said.


Dear lizardman,

I do agree with you about not changing 'alright' with 'OK' or anything else.

Kind regards,
Alex
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