Tricky Words in this week's OVI
There are several examples in this week's extracts of the use of participles (príčastia) for the sake of economy (úspornosť) - reducing the number of words - in English texts. Participles are
either present, the verb form ending with -ING, or past, the (regular) verb form ending with -ED (also used to form the passive, e.g. USSK was visited by members…). Both participles are used to
"save" (usporiť) the pronouns "who", "which" and "that", and where the -ING form is used to "save" active verb forms (e.g. simple present, often avoiding the irritating -S ending required for s/he,
but also present perfect), the -ED form "saves" small verbs like "is", "are", "was" or "were". Examples: APEAL: … representing (instead of "the organization which represents…"); The group led by…
(The group, which was led by…); Corporate Medium: becoming the best… (and it has become…); Equality: taking place in Košice… (which takes place…); The USSK project named… (which is named…); Tennis:
…players formerly featuring… (who used to feature…).
This week's question was originally about maintenance: what is the best way to translate "profylaktická údržba"? It should be simple to answer this - look up "profylaktická" in the dictionary, and
you find "prophylactic" - but in fact this opens up the question of how people react to certain words and avoid them (even though they have a totally normal and strictly correct meaning), because
they know another meaning of the word and they are embarrassed by it.
Prophylactic comes from the Greek word for "guard" or "protect", so it describes something or some action which protects something else, or which prevents something bad from happening - so it
should be perfect for maintenance. But "prophylactic" is also used as a euphemism for condom, which prevents pregnancy and protects the users, and this association could be embarrassing. So the
best translation is "preventive maintenance".
Please send questions about English language habits to email@example.com, and I will choose one to answer each week. AB
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