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EU Clear English Tips for Translators – English prefers straightforward syntax

EU Clear English Tips for Translators

Keep the subject close to the beginning of the sentence

  • Change > to
  • Under the agreement and subject to the call for proposals, the Commission shall fund the project. > The Commission shall fund the project under the agreement and subject to the call for proposals.
  • If a party does not respond in time or if no agreement is reached within the maximum time period, the Contracting Party will consider the procedure to have failed. > The Contracting Party will consider the procedure to have failed if a party does not respond in time or if no agreement is reached within the maximum time period.
  • As the provision which gave rise to the Commission’s objections ceased to apply before the deadline for response, the Commission’s objections are obsolete. > The provision which gave rise to the Commission’s objections ceased to apply before the deadline for response. Those objections are therefore obsolete.

Avoid splitting up subjects, modals, verbs and direct objects

  • Change > to
  • The team reported to the Board its findings. > The team reported its findings to the Board.
  • An applicant may, within 14 days, contest in writing the Committee’s decision. > An applicant may contest the Committee’s decision in writing within 14 days.
  • The Commission shall, if the proposal is approved, fund the project. > If the proposal is approved, the Commission shall fund the project.
  • The judicial council may, by means of an order setting out the grounds for its decision, extend the investigation period. > The judicial council may extend the investigation period by means of an order setting out the grounds for its decision.
  • The guidelines, from which the Commission may not depart without giving reasons, lay down the criteria for setting the amount of a fine. > The guidelines lay down the criteria for setting the amount of a fine. The Commission must give reasons if it departs from the guidelines.

If a sentence is too long, pull information out into separate sentences.

  • Change > to
  • Under the current system, if a manufacturer does not comply with the Regulation, the Ministry may, taking account of the principle of proportionality, withdraw the manufacturer’s licence unless it takes measures to ensure its compliance within a reasonable time. > Under the current system, the Ministry may withdraw the licence of a manufacturer if it does not comply with the Regulation. The Ministry must act proportionally. It need not act if the manufacturer takes measures to ensure its compliance within a reasonable time.

But don’t change sentence boundaries in legislation.

As a work-around, split with references and semicolons.

  • All documents must be sent, once evidence has been taken, to the prosecutor, who, within a period of one month, shall submit them to the court, which, within a period of one month, shall either reject the case or issue a court order, even for related offences, regardless of how serious they are, when it considers that there is no indication of one of the crimes in Article 1. > Once evidence has been taken, all documents must be sent to the prosecutor; the prosecutor has one month to submit the documents to the court; the court then has one month either to reject the case or to issue a court order; this also applies to related offences, regardless of how serious they are; this provision does not apply if the court considers that the case involves one of the crimes in Article 1.

Use topic-introducing phrases sparingly.

  • Change > to
  • Concerning / When it comes to state aid, the speaker outlined his proposals. > The speaker outlined his proposals on state aid.
  • As far as these goals are concerned, the report states that progress is being made. > The report states that progress is being made towards achieving these goals.
  • When it comes to fighting disease, lives may depend on it. > Lives may depend on fighting disease.

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