» » » » » » » EU Translation Guide: Be concrete, not abstract

EU Translation Guide: Be concrete, not abstract

translation7

Concrete messages are clear – abstract language canbe vague and off-putting. Too much abstract language might even lead your reader to think either that you don’t know what you are writing about or that your motives for writingare suspect.

Unless you have a good reason, if. you can use a concrete word instead of a more abstract word that means the same, choose the concrete word.

Your message will be more direct and therefore more powerful.

Sometimes,

  • instead of this…: ~ you could try this:
     
  • eliminate ~ cut out
  • achieve an objective ~ meet a target
  • employment opportunities ~ jobs
  • negative evolution ~ downturn
  • remunerated employment ~ paid work
  • investing in human capital * ~ (workforce) training, improving (workers’) skills, training and education

* As this example shows, the problem is often pinning down your exact meaning.

TIP: In Word, highlight and right-dick on a word and select ‘Synonyms’, near the bottom of the menu that appear, to find the word you are really looking for. The list of synonyms will contain both abstract and concrete words. Try to choose a concrete word instead of a vaguer all-purpose one. For example, the word identify is perfectly acceptable, but sometimes a clearer word is better:

  • to identify innovations ~ to spot innovations
  • to identify the participants ~ to name the participants
  • to identify the meaning ~ to see / show / pinpoint the meaning

Source: European Commission

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *