There's no logical reason for capitalizing the words you and your in the middle of a sentence. 

Just because it's translated doesn't mean it's edited—examples of Swenglish

This page describes typical problems that I encounter in my daily work as an editor. Many of these problems occur when:

  • Swedes write in English
  • Translators translate from Swedish to English
  • Native English speakers, who are not professional writers or editors, develop material for international audiences

The topics are presented in alphabetical order. The problems have been collected since 1995. The solutions are based on publications such as:

  • Edit Yourself by Bruce Ross-Larson, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1982, ISBN 0-393-01640-4
  • Fowler's Modern English Usage by H.W. Fowler, Second edition revised by Sir Ernest Gowers, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1983, ISBN 0-19-281389-7
  • Handbook of Technical Writing by Brusaw, Alred, and Oliu, Second edition, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1982, ISBN 0-312-35808-3
  • Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage by William and Mary Morris, Second edition, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1985, ISBN 0-06-181606-x
  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1993, ISBN 0-226-10390-7
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1979, ISBN 0-02-418200-1

Abbreviations

We use abbreviations to save space and avoid distractions because of unwieldy terms. These tips facilitate readability and usability:

  • Do not start a sentence with an abbreviation.
  • When in doubt, refer to publications such as The Chicago Manual of Style or Webster's Tenth New Collegiate Dictionary. Pick one way to write an abbreviation and stick with it throughout the document.
  • Do not use an abbreviation for something that appears only once or infrequently.

Latin

Are you writing for an international audience? Then drop the Latin abbreviations and use English. If you must use Latin abbreviations, for example, within parentheses, then use the correct spacing and punctuation:

Problem Solution Discussion
(such as x, y, etc)
(such as x, y, e t c)
(x, y, etc.)
(such as x and y)
(for example, x and y)
If a phrase starts with such as or for example, then you need not end it with etc. Always put a period after the c in etc.
books e g the
books eg. the
books eg the
books, e.g., the
books, for example, the
Do not put spaces between the letters in the abbreviations. Put a period after each letter. Set off the phrase with commas.
Petersen et. al.
Petersen et al.
Petersen, et al.
Petersen, et, al
Petersen, et. al.
Petersen et al. Put a period after al. Do not use italic. Do not insert a comma between the author's name and the abbreviation. Use a non-breaking space (press Ctrl + Shift + spacebar in Microsoft Word) to keep the letters together so that they don't split at the end of a line.
books i e the
books ie. the
books ie the
books, i.e., the
books, that is, the
Do not put spaces between the letters in the abbreviations. Put a period after each letter. Set off the phrase with commas.

Other abbreviations

Problem Solution Discussion
1 Oak Drive N.E.
P. O. Box
1 Oak Drive NE
P.O. Box
Use the abbreviations, N, S, E, W, NE, SE, NW, and SW with no periods and no spaces. Use no spaces after periods in the abbreviation, P.O.
A M
P M
am
pm
AM
PM
a.m.
p.m.
Set in small caps. Or, separate the letters with periods. No spaces between letters.
in US
in USA
in the US
in the USA
Some American style guidelines suggest periods in U.S. But some US publications are starting to drop the periods. Always put a definite article before the abbreviation, because if you wrote out the abbreviation, you'd never write in United States.
mb, MB, Mb MB and Mb Use MB for megabyte. Use Mb for megabit.
21 sek, 21SEK
T21SEK
SEK 21
SEK 21 thousand
Put a non-breaking space between the abbreviation and the number. Be consistent: Treat all currency abbreviations the same way in one document. Do not use T for thousand. Use K.
S:t Paul
St: Paul
St. Paul  

Acronyms

You create an acronym from the initial letters of each major word in a compound term. In some cases, acronyms can be pronounced as words, compared to abbreviations. Follow these basic rules when writing acronyms:

If ... Then ...
You use an acronym throughout a document Define it at the first occurrence like this: wireless application protocol (WAP).
The phrase that makes up the acronym is NOT a proper noun Do not capitalize the words that make up the acronym:
business unit (BU)
information technology (IT)
local area network (LAN)
transmission control protocol (TCP)
The acronym is a common word, such as scuba, radar, and modem Do not use capital letters.
A name is used only once You need not write an acronym, except when the term is better known by its acronym, for example, UN and NATO.
You have more than 10 acronyms in a document Create a glossary.
You use an acronym as a noun Put an article before the acronym unless it's used as an adjective, compare:
Log onto the LAN...
...using LAN technology
I am a member of the STC.
You can order STC publications from ...
For children in the EU...
...regarding EMU membership
You must put an indefinite article before the acronym Use these examples to determine the correct article:
A NATO meeting (consonant sound n)
An NAACP meeting (vowel sound en)
An SQL command (vowel sound ess)
A SEQUEL routine (consonant sound s)

Active voice

Use active voice whenever possible. You can get help from grammar checkers, which usually highlight sentences in passive voice.

Problem   Solution
A book has been written by Judy.   Judy wrote a book.

Adjectives

Hyphenate compound adjectives except when the first word ends in ly. Use a comma between two adjectives when they modify the same noun and the word and could be used between them without altering the meaning (see The Well-Tempered Sentence and Handbook of Technical Writing).

Problem Solution
Product A is a cost efficient and high quality solution. Product A is a cost-effective, high-quality solution.
   
...in the long dark damp and cold hall ...in the long, dark, damp, cold hall

Captions

To cut costs and save space, use sentence-style captions (down-style capitalization).

Problem Solution
Table 1: This Is A Caption. Table 1. This is a caption.
Table 2. This Is In Italic And Hard To Read. Table 2. This is in regular and easy to read.

Capitalization—sorting out some myths

Native English speakers do not capitalize the words you and your when they occur in the middle of a sentence.

Professional writers and editors do not capitalize words that form acronyms unless together, the words form a proper noun, compare:

Proper noun Noun
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) power station (PS)
zip code (ZC)
graphical user interface (GUI)

Different publications establish different style guidelines for capitalization. People who write for these publications (or edit them) are supposed to consistently follow the publication's guidelines.

Not all publications in English use capital letters in their headings; some use sentence-style (also called down-style) capitalization (see, for example, USA Today).

The use of capital letters goes back to the days when we didn't have word processors that allowed us to differentiate titles by using different font sizes and styles, compare:

In The Old Days—Crazy About Capitals Today—neat and uncluttered
THIS IS A MAIN HEADING

This is a main heading

This is a Sub-Heading, Level 2 This is a subheading, level 2
This is a Sub-Heading, Level 3 This is a subheading, level 3

Professional publications also have style guidelines regarding list items, compare:

To start the program:
  • type your user ID
  • press the Enter key
To start the program:
  • Type your user ID.
  • Press the Enter key.

Put job titles that occur after a person's name in lowercase. Put official titles that occur before a person's name in uppercase, compare:

Titles before the name Titles after the name
President Joe Doe
Governor Jane Brown
Queen Elizabeth
Judy Petersen, manager
Joe Doe, president of the US
Jane Brown, governor of ...
Elizabeth II, queen of England

When in doubt...

If you're not sure about capitalization, see the publications listed at the top of this page, particularly The Chicago Manual of Style. Select one publication as your "bible" and consistently apply its guidelines. If you're writing for a specific magazine, journal, or newspaper, then ask for its guidelines.

Cross-references

Enclose article titles in quotation marks in the body of the article. Put publication titles in italic in the body of the article, for example: See the "Svengelska" article in Old Trends magazine.

Currency

If you're writing in English, then write all currency names in English.

If you're editing a document that was written by many authors, then choose a currency abbreviation convention and stick to it. For example, if most articles or chapters use a dollar sign ($), then make all articles or chapters comply.

Put the currency abbreviation before the numbers and "glue" them together with a non-breaking space so that they don't split onto two lines: SEK 5 million, USD 21 thousand.

Grammar

Most Swenglish I've encountered is clumsy but grammatically correct. Here are some frequently occurring problems:

  • Use of a gerund instead of a relative pronoun
  • Use of that or which—rather than who.
  • Incorrect use and punctuation of that and which.
Problem   Solution   Discussion
The module solving the problem is easy to install.   The module that solves the problem is easy to install.   The use of that (a defining, restrictive pronoun) provides a syntactical clue for international readers. Here, the use of that designates which one.
The site defining the term is whatis.com.   The site that defines the term is whatis.com.    
The students that have speech class are taking advanced English.   The students who have speech class are taking advanced English.   Use who with people; use that with things.
The best book that is 100-pages long is on the table beside the red book.   The best book, which is 100-odd pages long, is on the table beside the red book.   which is 100-odd pages long adds a fact and is non-restricting. Always put a comma before which.
The book which I wrote is blue.   The book that I wrote is blue.   that I wrote is defining and restricting.

Note: I've been in this business since 1984, but every year, I reread The Elements of Style (William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1979, ISBN 0-02-418200-1). I recommend it to all people who write in English.

I also run the grammar checker before I deliver jobs to my customers, because sometimes I'm so caught up with one aspect of writing or editing that I may overlook something else. The grammar checker helps find things I might have missed. And if I've missed something on this page, please let me know!

Numbers

  • Never start an English sentence with a number. Use words for one to nine—unless it looks silly because other numbers close by are large.
  • Use numerals from 10 up.
  • Hyphenate fractions like this: one-third, one-fourth.
  • Don't put apostrophes in dates.
  • Use a period for a decimal (.).
  • Use a comma for 5 or more digits.
Problem   Solution
two thirds   two-thirds
in the 1990's   in the 1990s
01,58903   01.58903
23.000   23,000

Parallel constructions

Make expressions similar in context and function so the reader can more easily recognize the likeness of the content and function; compare:

Problem: not parallel Solution: parallel
French was taught by the textbook methodology, while now the laboratory methodology is utilized. French was taught by the textbook method;
now it is taught by the lab method.

Make list items and prepositions in a series parallel, for example, start each list item with a verb when writing procedures:

  • Start the machine.
  • Type your user ID in the login box.
  • Press Enter or select OK.

Punctuation and spacing

Comma. In technical information, put a comma before a conjunction: Refer to the online help, user's guide, and user's forum.

Ellipsis. Insert space between the words and the ellipsis: "To be or not to be ..."

Em dash (—). Traditionally, the em dash is the width of the letter M. It's used to separate thoughts. When you use it, close in the spaces between the words and the em dash: word—word. Do not use a hyphen and a space to separate thoughts, compare:

Problem Solution
Swenglish - a mixture of Swedish and English Swenglish—a mixture of Swedish and English

Quotation marks. Use italic for emphasis and for introducing new terms and concepts. Put quotation marks around:

  • Quotations from other documents
  • Cross-references to other headings
  • Article titles

Ensure that the quotation marks are properly curled. Do not type quotation marks around text that users must enter on the computer screen.

Semicolons: Use them to separate two independent clauses and to precede lists or items in a series. Do not use semicolons for colons, compare:

Problem Solution
We selected three colors; red, white, and blue.
We selected three colors: red, white, and blue.

Spacing. Use non-breaking spaces to keep numbers together. Do not put spaces between:

  • Words and slashes (word/word)
  • Numbers and percent signs (5%)

Quotations

Do not enclose long, indented block quotations in quotation marks; see quotation marks.

Spelling

Always set the language option to the English you need for your document. Never distribute a document without running the spell checker first.

Titles

Put publication titles in italic. Enclose chapter, section, and article titles in quotation marks. Put job titles in lowercase letters when they follow the person's name; see "Titles before the name".

Just because it's translated, doesn't mean it's edited

Before Swedish information is released to the public, the document usually goes through these or similar steps:

  • The Swedish writer creates at least two drafts (in some instances, 3-4)
  • Subject matter experts review the content of each draft and give their input to the writer, who inserts corrections or new text
  • A professional copyeditor edits the document
  • An authorized person approves the document (sometimes with additional corrections that the writer inserts)

The same procedure is seldom used for translation. Many times, someone makes a last-minute decision to translate the original document. The translator is asked to do the job on short notice, is given very little time to produce the document in the target language, and receives very little support material or instructions regarding the:

  • Document's purpose
  • Target audience (age and education/reading level)
  • Message that the document is supposed to convey

The results of the translation can be what I call Swenglish—a writing style that also occurs when a Swedish writer develops information in English and steps 1-4 are not followed—particularly the editing step.

Here are some Swenglish examples that I've collected throughout the years. Nouns and proper nouns are changed to protect the authors:

Swenglish Edited Discussion/
suggestions
A CU is by HQ (DN3, the second chapter) defined in enclosure 1. The HQ definition of CU is in Appendix A; see also
chapter 2 in DN3.
Chapters usually have numbers and appendices have letters. The parentheses in the middle of the sentence are distracting and unnecessary.
We were six on a course. Six of us attended a course.
Six people in our group attended a course.
 
Acme delivers solutions and services to the floral market with focus on transportable business solutions (including necessary changes in legacy systems). Acme delivers solutions and services that focus on transportation (including necessary changes in legacy systems). The company serves the floral market. ...with focus on is misplaced in the original sentence.
By ensuring the information pertaining to the ACME retail network (world-wide) is always updated and correct, we will also ensure that a customer will feel secure that he/she can always find the closest ACME Repair facility, no matter where in Asia he/she may be. By continuously updating and correcting ACME retail network information, we ensure that customers always know where they can find our closest ACME Repair facility regardless of where they are located in Asia. Using the plural form makes the sentence less clumsy. The use of world-wide was superfluous here because it's used elsewhere, and because this sentence refers to Asia only.
This document concerns not ACRONYM if not explicit expressed. This document does not deal with ACRONYM unless explicitly stated.  
The Business Area (BA) Widget is a profit generating unit measured and controlled as all other BA's worldwide within the Acme Group. The Widget business area (BA) generates profit. The Acme Group evaluates and controls this and all other BAs worldwide. The first part of the sentence is classic Swenglish! It reads better if the proper noun (Widget) occurs before the phrase (business area). Business area need not be capitalized, and BAs doesn't require an apostrophe. I'm not sure what measured and controlled means. So I asked the author for clarification.
The therapeutic area has a responsibility for ... ... is responsible for ... No need for an article (a).
These calculations were based on earnings net of taxes, included study assistance during the educational period and were made for individuals working full time. These calculations were based on:

- Earnings excluding taxes

- Study assistance during the education period

- People who are working full time.
A list can improve readability. The author approved this change.
...is responsible to manage ... is responsible for managing  
The focus will this week be on the price reports being released. This week's focus is on forthcoming price reports. will this week be is pure Swenglish. Authors sometimes start documents in future tense, which is unnecessary.
On Wednesday (Sep 29), the deputy governor Mr. Sven Svensson is to speak. Deputy Governor Sven Svensson will speak on Wednesday, 29 September. is to speak was a problem here.
The krone has a potential to strengthen further over the next few months. The krone might strengthen further during the next few months. a potential should be used with care. See "Terminology" regarding the word over.
The ACME Behavior Guideline is the result of the so called TOP-project in which several work-group meetings during the period of fall and winter 1996-97 including participation from our Retailers have been of vital importance for the outcome. About 50 representatives from Retailers and importers within 15 countries of our Asian Retailers organisation have participated and thereby given several different viewpoints and contributed with their gathered experiences. During the autumn and winter of 1996-1997, the TOP project developed this ACME Behavior Guideline. The project participants consisted of about 50 representatives from our retailers and importers in 15 countries within our Asian retailers' organization. All project participants made important contributions that reflected their viewpoints and experiences. So called? It is called the TOP project (without a hyphen). Publication titles should be in italic. This example illustrates how an editor can make text more clear and concise.

Terms and such

Some terms can be written in various ways. The important thing is that they appear the same way throughout a document. Inconsistency often occurs, for example, when several writers produce one document or a multi-page Web site.


Problem

Solution
Discussion, suggestions
[ ( I often see brackets instead of parentheses. Here's how to use them:

... is good. (My mother [Hazel Deppe] even liked it.) I'd like to read the sequel.

above
below
previous
following
In final layout, text may not be above or below.
American industry US industry Are you specifically referring to the United States—and not Canada or Central and South American? Then write US rather than American.
among other things ... such as ...
... for example, ...
If you start a phrase with such as or for example, you need not end it with etc. See the "Latin" and "Quotation marks" sections.
backup
back-up
back up
backup = noun and adjective.
back up = verb.
 
barcode
bar-code
BarCode
BARCODE
bar code Select one way to write a term and then be consistent throughout a product or document.
breakdown
break down
break-down
breakdown = noun and adjective.
break down = verb.
 
Budget budget Use lowercase unless it's in a title.
business cycle
businesscycle
BusinessCycle
business-cycle
business cycle
Does a noun appear after business cycle? Then hyphenate as in business-cycle curves.
criteria's, criterias criteria Criteria is the plural of criterion.
etc ..., and such.
... and so forth.
If you start a phrase with such as or for example, you need not end it with etc.
Euro, EURO euro
EUR[nonbreaking space]XX
Don't capitalize it unless it starts a sentence. Use the abbreviation before the digits.
EU (European Union)
EU, European Union,
European Union, EU,
European Union (EU) See the "Acronyms" section.
fall autumn This is the more accurate term.
homepage home page Check your organization's style manual/guidelines on this one. Also make sure you mean home page. Sometimes Web site should be used instead.
internet
Intranet
internet application
Internet
intranet
Internet application
There are many intranets in the world but only one Internet, which is a proper noun. Be specific: do not use the word Internet when you mean Web.
java Java This is a proper noun.
long experience extensive experience, a lot of experience  
so called, so-called Delete this phrase, especially if the word that follows occurred for the first time in English.  
over more than Check the context.
over during  
over across  
user identity user ID  
web addresses, web application, web site, website, web page, webpage, web Web addresses, Web application, Web site, Web page, the Web Check your organization's style manual/guidelines on this one. As a courtesy to those wonderful folks who developed the World Wide Web, I capitalize Web because I believe that it is a proper noun. Be specific: do not use the word Internet when you mean Web. You can look real foolish if you're talking about Web applications and you consistently write Internet applications.
year 2000 2000  
9 years of age age 9 You can save space this way.

Copyright 2000-2008. American Writing & Editing AB. All rights reserved.

Please send me your Swenglish examples and I'll add them to this page:
judy.petersen@mailbox.swipnet.se