Branching – Editor Notes

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Notes from the Editor – May 2016 Branch to the right English is a subject-verb-object language. And it is considered a right-branching language. In right-branching sentences, the subject is described first, and is followed by modifiers that provide additional information about the subject. The prince raised the sword, clutching the hilt in both hands, grinning with madness. In left-branching sentences, however, modifiers are presented before the introduction of the subject and verb. We are kept in suspense. We get the […]

Passive Voice in Journals – Dragoman Style

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The passive voice is used more frequently in journals. 1. Follow these examples when using the passive voice: The patients were tested for asthma. Tissue samples were taken from each patient. 2. Avoid the following type of passive voice constructions, whenever possible: It was shown in the report that patients responded negatively to treatment. The report indicated that patients responded negatively to the treatment.   It was observed in the clinical trial that 10 percent of males tested positive. As […]

How not to use a relative clause

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One of the key elements of writing well is to understand the use of relative clauses. For non-native speakers, and especially for my fellow Turkish colleagues, abuse of relative clauses is common and easy to overcome mistake. Here is an example from Izmir Train – the IZBAN. We recently opened a branch office in Izmir and I enjoy the laid-back mood of this beautiful town. I resumed blogging, which is a very good sign. English: “Halkapınar station is the transfer station for […]

Sentence Branching (Or How To Avoid Brain Strain)

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The use of left-branching sentences is a common problem in translations. Yet many translators are unaware that they are even writing them. In most cases, right-branching sentences are more appropriate and easier to read. So what’s the difference? Left-branching sentences Left-branching sentences can resemble a magic trick. This is as they keep the reader in suspense by only revealing at the end of the sentence what it is that’s being discussed. This becomes particularly problematic (and infuriating for the reader) in long sentences […]

Sentence Splitting Part 2

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Editor’s note: first read the guide to the basics of sentence splitting. The below example is based upon an actual translation but is not unique. Original translation:  Located in Peru, Machu Picchu, which is 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level and can be reached by train or by foot, via the legendary Inca Trail, is a 15th-century Inca site that has been called one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” Problem: The above contains six clauses (sections […]

Sentence Splitting Part 1

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One of the most common issues we deal with when editing texts translated from Turkish is overly long sentences. The trait is often carried over from the source text, as Turkish texts tend to use what are – to native English speakers – improbably long sentences. Long sentences make it difficult for the reader to comprehend the text. Breaking up a sentence can make text easier to digest and less tiring for the reader. When should a sentence be split?

Passive & Active Voices Troubleshooting

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Important: This article is about a major element of writing well – active vs passive – and also a key component of Dragoman Style. Key points: Use the active tense where possible. Passive is only to be used in medical journals, as necessary. “Activity is interesting. Where you can, write sentences with subjects that are doing things, and not subjects that are simply receiving actions upon them.” (BBC News Styleguide)