Advanced Dunglish… the blog

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    • select various categories such as Punctuation or US-UK issues to find related posts
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A black-and-white issue?

You’d think colours are pretty elementary and there ought to be no mistakes there. But there are still pitfalls when colours are combined.

A new threat

Dutch doesn’t have words that end in D. Or rather, the pronunciation is the same as a final T so they have a hard time distinguishing the two.

Dear, dear…

Try to avoid using “Dear” at the start of a message or e-mail unless you know the person’s name. Imagine you’re actually speaking to them, face to face.

Passive avoidance

You may have been taught to avoid passive verbs. They have their place, however, and avoiding them mustn’t distort the meaning.

Highlighting borrowed words

A brief aside for translators: if the author has italicized something merely to emphasize that it’s borrowed from English, there’s no need to take that formatting across!

Psychic distress

Anything to do with the psyche – the human mind or soul, after the goddess of the same name – has to be referred to as “psychological” or “mental”, not “psychic”.

Cowboys and Indonesians

Unusually for European languages, Dutch has retained the word “Indisch” as the demonym for the former East Indies and people are always mistranslating it as “Indian”.

Three contronyms

A word that takes diametrically opposed meanings, depending on the context, can’t be translated with a one-size-fits-all solution into a language where different words are used for those meanings.


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