Stewart's  corner

Spørsmål angående engelsk språkbruk kan sendes til Stewart Clark, e-post: stewart.clark@adm.ntnu.noeller faks: 73 59 79 99.

Good Latin (2)

per (Norw., pr.) is written with-out a stop in English. It is normal to combine «per» with another appropriate Latin word, such as «per annum» (abbreviated p.a.): «Her income is NOK 250 000 p.a.». Recommended alternatives are «a year», «annually», but never «per year». Note that «30 mph» and «50 kph» - miles per hour and kilometres per hour - are exceptions. «Per cent» (Norw., prosent) is written in two words in BE, but in one word in AE. But «percentage» is one word in both BE and AE. «Per capita» (Norw., pr. hode) is abbreviated «p.c.», note «per head» is substandard. «Per diem» (often referred to as «the diem») means the daily allowance when travelling to cover hotel expenses and subsistence costs (Norw. diettpenger, diett).

This stands for the Latin «per pro» or «per procurationem». p.p. is used when someone signs a letter by authority or proxy because another person is not available. The ending: «Arne Olsen, pp. Hans Chr. Wiig», means that Arne Olsen has signed on Hans Chr. Wiig's behalf. In the USA, p.p. is uncommon and an equivalent expression is: «Signed by ... in the absence of ...».

op. cit.
op. cit. is the abbreviation of the Latin «opere citero», which is not read or used. It means the work already cited and is written as: «Olsen, op. cit. p. 14».

This means «intentionally so written». It is used in square brackets to show that a quoted item exactly reproduces the original and is not your mistake. Some referees of papers get carried away and use [sic] without compassion. It is impolite (though tempting) to emphasize an obvious misspelling by [sic], such as commenting on a Russian lady's hobbies, which appeared in Dagbladet as: «sewing, gardening, hooking and rambling».

viz. is the abbreviation for «videlicet», which is not read or used. viz. means «namely», which is the recommended alternative, especially in speech. viz. is less common than i.e. In correct use, viz. introduces a list of items previously mentioned as a whole, and i.e. supplies an interpretation: «Only the universities: viz. Oslo, NTNU, Bergen and Tromsø can award Norwegian doctoral degrees, i.e., Dr. art., Dr. ing., Dr. juris, Dr. legis., Dr. med. ...».

Note about et al.

In the last corner, I mentioned that et al. is used when there are more than three authors, as is the rule in the «Chicago Manual of Style». It has been pointed out that many leading journals in the natural sciences require et al. for three authors or more.

Tricky words:

Via, by, by means of
via is Latin and means a road. If you think of this you will not get lost as via is correctly only used for routes: «From Trondheim you can get to London via Oslo, Bergen or Copenhagen».

by and by means of arethe methods used: « Freight is sent by air or rail», «natural gas is exported by means of pipelines». In the world of the electronic communications, a grey area is gaining ground and via is also becoming used with means of communication, such as: «reply via E-mail», «broadcast via satellite TV».

Optic, optics, optical
Optic (adj.), (Norw. optisk, syns-) This describes the eye and sight. It is common in anatomical connections such as the «optic nerve» (Norw. synsnerve). Also as a compound such as «fibre-optic sensor». Optic (noun) is rarely used today except in the BE sense of a device that is attached to a bottle and is used to measure and dispense a quantity of spirits.

Optics (noun), (Norw. «optikk») This means the science that deals with visible and invisible light and also vision. Use a singular verb with optics in this sense: «Opticsis a subject for far sighted students». Another use of optics is the lenses, prisms and mirrors in an optical instrument. Here a plural verb is required: «The optics of this telescope are hand-crafted».

Optical (adj.), (Norw. optisk, syns-) This means applying the science of optics or the principles of optics. It also relates to the eye and vision (such as «an optical illusion», Norw, «synsbedrag»). An optical specialist could mean someone working and researching in optics, or an optician: someone trained to make or sell glasses (BE), eyeglasses (AE) or contact lenses (Norw. «optiker»).

Enlightening English

«No automobiles, Pederasts only»
Hotel carpark sign, Barcelona
«Happy Holiday Walkings in Micro-Ass»
Beach sign for donkey rides, Majorca

«We will embark for the island of Lobos, where we will have plenty of time to have a swim and admire the marine's bottoms.»
Tourist brochure, Tenerife

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