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Help! My client doesn't know it's out of date to say "Before Christ"
מפרסם התגובה: Tom in London

neilmac  Identity Verified
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It'll never catch on Apr 21, 2013

Russell Jones wrote:

I've only recently heard of BCE and CE

Personally I refuse to use such faddish things; I don't expect them to catch on!


Same here. If it's not broke(n), I prefer not to fix it. Having grown up reading 2000 AD (the comic) and seeing Raquel Welch in 10,000 years BC (sometimes puzzlingly written as Ten Million Years BC on some posters) I still tend to use use BC and AD unless otherwise indicated, for example in certain professional journals. If nothing else, they are both shorter than BCE, which I found irritatingly groundless the first time I had to look it up.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
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The real world Apr 21, 2013

Allison Wright wrote:
I decided to retain the BC/AD notation because readership of this portal will not necessarily be academic. After reading as much as I could about the BCE/CE notation, I had imaginary conversations with my father, and a few friends to get a feel for it.

This was the gist of my imaginary conversation:
Father/Others: What is BCE/CE?
Me: It is the modern notation for BC/AD
Father/Others: Well why didn't you put BC/AD, then?

I tested a few well-read English speakers where I live too. 1 out of 20 knew what I was talking about.


Poilte applause here.


 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
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A novelty Apr 21, 2013

Tom in London wrote:

Russell Jones wrote:

Is it really a surprise that a museum in a largely Catholic country prefers traditional usage.




Yes, it is, because the English-speaking visitors will NOT be Italian. The Italian visitors will read the captions in Italian, but not the others (as I tried, unsuccessfully, to explain to my client).

[Edited at 2013-04-20 20:31 GMT]


An Italian institution putting its customers ahead of its own preferences / prejudices? That really would be "innovative".

(With apologies to all my Italian friends - I'm sure they know I'm speaking affectionately!)


 

Tom in London
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Anyway... Apr 21, 2013

Anyway -- thanks, folks. My conclusion: "it's controversial".

 

Sandra & Kenneth Grossman  Identity Verified
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CE and BCE Apr 21, 2013

For obvious reasons, where I live, few people use the BC/AD version. I imagine the situation is similar in the Arab world.
Is this just empty politically correctness? How would you feel expressing dates relative to the Hegira?
Think again.


 

An Ismanto  Identity Verified
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Healthy discussion here Apr 21, 2013

Thoughtful.

texjax DDS PhD wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

Imagine writing a paper on Islamic art and using "BC" and "AD" to denote the dates.....(and that's only an example).

[Edited at 2013-04-20 16:46 GMT]


But, whether it’s BC or BCE, both systems take the Gregorian calendar as their starting point.

As the Telegraph’s Christopher Booker noted: “The trouble with this politically-correct effort to spare offence to Muslims, Jews, atheists or other non-Christians from the use of a dating system tied to Jesus, is that it prompts any child to ask ‘So what is this Common Era based on?’, and brings up the very point it seeks to avoid.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/8737038/To-BC-or-BCE.html



The new designation is unsatisfactory on several levels. In the first place, no "common era" exists. It can't be found in history books or the dictionary. It was just made up. If there is a common era, it didn't begin in the year one; it probably began around 1500 A.D. when ocean exploration connected the world in a global trading network.


The politically sensitive thinkers who developed the new terminology were not so bold as to identify a new, logical, non-Christian basis for dating time such as the beginning of agriculture ten thousand years ago or the beginning of civilization five thousand years ago. Instead, they kept the Christian system but attempted to obscure its historical origin, a curiously anti-historical act.


http://www.studentsfriend.com/feed/topic11.html


[Edited at 2013-04-20 17:12 GMT] [/quote]

In Indonesian, there are two terminologies/acronym for those references, namely "SM" and "M". SM = Sebelum Masehi (Before Masehi [comes from 'Masih' Isa Al-Masih Jesus Christ". M = Masehi". Hence the "common era" in Indonesian is the birth of Christ in year one. And, as the biggest Moslem population in a country in the planet, there is no disagreement, both officially and colloquial. Even the Islamic holidays, in Indonesian calendar, are stated first in Gregorian dates and Hijriyah dates!

[Edited at 2013-04-21 13:01 GMT]


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
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Old habits die hard Apr 21, 2013

I use and will continue to use BC/AD because it's what I was taught at school, what I grew up with. In addition, I'm not convinced by the arguments/reasons/motivation for retraining my brain to switch to BCE/CE.

It's just a reference point to the vast majority of secular folk. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn't infer any belief or endorsement of Christ whatsoever. Just as if I were to say that today [in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar] is the 11th of Iyyar, 5773 (A.M = Anno Mundi),
... See more
I use and will continue to use BC/AD because it's what I was taught at school, what I grew up with. In addition, I'm not convinced by the arguments/reasons/motivation for retraining my brain to switch to BCE/CE.

It's just a reference point to the vast majority of secular folk. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn't infer any belief or endorsement of Christ whatsoever. Just as if I were to say that today [in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar] is the 11th of Iyyar, 5773 (A.M = Anno Mundi), it doesn't mean I believe myself, nor endorse the belief that the world is only 5773 years old; it's just a reference point.

[Edited at 2013-04-21 14:59 GMT]
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Luigi Giacomo Trani
 

George Hopkins
Local time: 19:43
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BC AD... Apr 21, 2013

... naturally.
Although most Italians are Roman Catholics -- Italy has the lowest birth rate in Europe. A contradication in terms?


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
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Being diplomatic Apr 21, 2013

Ty Kendall wrote:

It's just a reference point to the vast majority of secular folk. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn't infer any belief or endorsement of Christ whatsoever. Just as if I were to say that today [in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar] is the 11th of Iyyar, 5773 (A.M = Anno Mundi), it doesn't mean I believe myself, nor endorse the belief that the world is only 5773 years old; it's just a reference point.

[Edited at 2013-04-21 14:59 GMT]


Just as in Muslim countries they use a date that's 621 years later than the Gregorian calendar and in Iran they use a date that's 621 year earlier (ça ne s'invente pas!).

You can't divorce culture from language.

but you can't force the Italians to take on PC academic language either.

I personally would go for BC and AD unless I could be sure that only academics would ever visit the museum. Muslims or Buddhists visiting the museum could surely accept that in a Catholic country, Catholic references are used. Just like I accept that I have to leave my shoes outside if I want to visit a mosque or Hindu temple.

And Christians visiting the museum could be upset if Christian references are not used, just like Hindus or Muslims could be angry with inconsiderate tourists who forget to observe basic rules.

Not to mention that the vast majority of us here either didn't know of BCE and CE or still preferred BC and AD. I would definitely choose the terms that Joe Bloggs and Jane Doe would be most likely to understand and use.

I recently had a discussion with a client about a reference to the English Channel in a text about Henry VIII and François 1er for an exhibition in the north of France. I had translated "la Manche" as "the English Channel" and the French client crossed out the word "English". I told them that since the vast majority of people reading the translated booklet would be tourists driving over from Kent for a weekend break, it would be better to put what they would expect to read.

The client then retorted that it wasn't called the English Channel in the 16th century. A quick look at Wiki showed that it was called the British Sea. I supposed that it would have been in reference to Brittany since Great Britain didn't yet exist, so that would be plain confusing.

I then gracefully acknowledged that the British tourists would understand what the text would be referring to if they just put "the Channel" and suggested a compromise of leaving the first "English" then only putting "the Channel". I think my sense of diplomacy won the day and they agreed.


 

S E (X)
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definitely not a fad or 'just PC', but use depends on audience Apr 21, 2013

We used BCE and CE while I was doing my PhD in Art History at Yale (2003-2010) and this was simply, uncontroversially standard in academic art history. It was just what people used.

So, speaking as an art/architecture colleague of Tom's from the other side of the pond, yes, BCE and CE are the norm in academia.

In translation, I use BCE and CE for academic papers/texts, and BC/AD for everything else, including museum texts directed toward the broader public, following th
... See more
We used BCE and CE while I was doing my PhD in Art History at Yale (2003-2010) and this was simply, uncontroversially standard in academic art history. It was just what people used.

So, speaking as an art/architecture colleague of Tom's from the other side of the pond, yes, BCE and CE are the norm in academia.

In translation, I use BCE and CE for academic papers/texts, and BC/AD for everything else, including museum texts directed toward the broader public, following the lead of institutions like the Met Museum and the British Museum, which do seem to prefer BC/AD, for example:

http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/pompeii_and_herculaneum/highlight_objects.aspx

Sarah
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Tom in London
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No Apr 21, 2013

George Hopkins wrote:

......most Italians are Roman Catholics


I lived in Italy for more than 20 years. There were Catholics around, but I only ever knew perhaps 2 in all that time. In my experience, not many Italians are religious at all (although for sentimental reasons they may go to Mass at Christmas and Easter).


 

Sarai Pahla (MD) MBChB
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At least socially Apr 21, 2013

Tom in London wrote:
Anyway -- thanks, folks. My conclusion: "it's controversial".


Amusingly, there seems to be some degree of consensus between two very broad groups - those who are in academia and those who are not. FYI, I use BCE and CE when required - but then again, I have had clients ask me if i.e. is actually a real term...


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
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GT thinks BC is right Apr 21, 2013

In Finnish we use eaa (ennen ajanlaskumme alkua = before beginning of our calendar) and jaa (jälkeen ajanlaskumme alkua = after beginning of our calender), if we want to be confession-neutral.

Wikipedia supports BC and AD for English: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Domini

I wonder if anyone could be offended by us using Christian terminology. Do you get offended if J
... See more
In Finnish we use eaa (ennen ajanlaskumme alkua = before beginning of our calendar) and jaa (jälkeen ajanlaskumme alkua = after beginning of our calender), if we want to be confession-neutral.

Wikipedia supports BC and AD for English: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Domini

I wonder if anyone could be offended by us using Christian terminology. Do you get offended if Jews or Muslims use their terminology?


[Bearbeitet am 2013-04-21 16:32 GMT]
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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
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Spot on! Apr 21, 2013

Texte Style wrote:
You can't divorce culture from language.


Couldn't agree more, which is why I can't bring myself to do something so forced and artificial as to try to revise my own usage to eschew something based on what? (its Christian origins?). It's not offensive, it's just fact - a remnant of a time when Christianity was influential in the development of the language and something which became an accepted cultural way of marking time. It may or may not change in the future (usually these things change more quickly and successfully when you don't try forcing or coercing them and just let nature take its course).

No doubt Tom would posit that the culture has now changed (i.e. we're "multi-cultural" now) which is true, but language simply doesn't always change in tandem with it.

If it did, we wouldn't still be using words derived from the names of Pagan gods for our days of the weeks (and some of our months).

Well over 1000 years of Christianity in England still hasn't managed to rid us of that pagan remnant so why should we expect (or desire) things like BC/AD to go the way of the dodo overnight?

Wanting to rid the language of religion's influence is merely another form of linguistic purism (and history has taught us that most linguistic purist endeavours end in failure).


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
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In my experience, the experts at being offended lie on the other side Apr 21, 2013

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

I wonder if anyone could be offended by us using Christian terminology. Do you get offended if Jews or Muslims use their terminology?


I think you've got the question backwards. Read this thread again and see who sounds most offended.

I choose to use BCE/CE because I'm not a Christian, and it provokes indignation in some. I like to use "she" in non-gender-specific texts sometimes, and I see sputtering outrage. Remind me again who it is who is supposed to be trying to "control" the way others use language?


 
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