Appears or Displays

Subject: Appears or Displays
From: Peter Collins <peter -dot- collins -at- BIGFOOT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 21:29:42 +1100

In addition to all on this to date, appears is ambiguous (=seems) is a
way that displays is not. I learnt (that's the way I write it, not learned,
which to me is an adjective - 'the learned old professor') of this
distinction on a project which had to be localised (why oh why did they not
just say translated) into about seven other languages after I had done my
best efforts at writing it in English.
I was told that translators for whom English was their second language
are often to be preferred for tranlating into their mother tongue because
their output is more likely to appear (deliberate use of the ambiguous
term, for 'seemingness' is part of what I wish here to convey - the other
part being the fact of the text being printed on the page) natural to thier
readers. The down side of this is that unless their grasp of English is
particularly subtle - and sometimes it is not - the translators may make a
dog's dinner of 'appears'. Thus this particular distinction made it into
their 'oral tradition' (ie undocumented) style guide.
I will not apologise for the long and convoluted meanderings and
maunderings above. Instead, by way of illustration or justification, or
even conciliation and compensation, I will tell you a story.
The reporter was sent to interview the shortest man in the world when
the circus was in town. Knocking on the door of the designated caravan he
was amazed when a giant of a man, bent almost double to fit into the space,
opened the door. "I'm looking for the shortest man in the world."
"That's me."
"But you must be, what, eight feet tall!"
"Eight feet and one inch!"
"So, please let me speak with the short guy."
"I just told you, that's me!"
"Pull the other one."
"No, it's true. I'm off duty."
Peter Collins, VIVID Management Pty Ltd,
26 Bradleys Head Road, MOSMAN NSW 2088, Australia
+61 2 9968 3308, fax +61 2 9968 3026, mobile +61 (0)18 419 571
Management Consultants and Technical Writers
email: peter -dot- collins -at- bigfoot -dot- com ICQ#: 10981283
Short stories and CV:

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