Checking the controls

Controls tend to be operating mechanisms or procedures for making machines or processes behave as you want. Controlling something means beheersen or macht hebben over. In many other cases, you need to use check, particularly as the verb.

In the everyday case, it’s Elementary Dunglish: controleren = to check. But it’s a pitfall numerous authors fall into nevertheless.

  • e.g. Financial Controllers don’t check the finances, they manage them
  • e.g. Air Traffic Controllers aren’t checking the planes, they’re all about managing safety
  • there are exceptions for control as a noun, so I’d recommend a quick search to be sure that the phrase you want is normal.
    • IPC = in-process control… it still means checking!
    • a null sample for comparison purposes is a control

Many European languages have a verb to check that looks like control and so non-natives communicating in English will understand each other just fine and it’s the Americans and Brits and so forth who’ll be confused! A classic example of Eurospeak.

Prevalence: very high. A fairly elementary but widespread mistake.
Frequency: high. Tends to turn up multiple times in the same text.
Native: no. Though I’ve seen it sneak into native translations on rare occasions – hurried, lazy or just gone a bit Dutch.

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

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