Responding to…

A minor but useful point today. In Dutch, literally translated, you “respond on” a question or give an “answer on” a problem. English uses “to”.

It’s one of the tricky things learning any language: the incorrect use of small words such as prepositions and conjunctions that you tend to transliterate from your native tongue.

  • respond to, give an answer to, correspond to, reply to
  • the correct wording isn’t terribly hard to Google up (search for “antwoord op” and “response”, for example, and you’ll soon see that you need “to”)

The problem is the mindset of realising you might be wrong in the first place and then moving away from the unthinking, literal translation.

Prevalence: endemic. One of a number of examples I could have chosen.
Frequency: very high. This wasn’t due to be the next post, but it turned up a dozen times or more yesterday in a single document (that was otherwise pretty good). If you’ve got a blind spot for it…
Native: no. These little slip-ups can in fact often be the first big give-away that the text is non-native.

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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