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 My client doesn't know it's out of date to say "Before Christ"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

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
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MHRA and Chicago Style Apr 22, 2013

Maybe it's an art history thing: I started at the University of Illinois (hardly a bastion of any academic-PC ivory tower) in 1995 and know that I was immediately exposed to CE/BCE. I could have sworn that I got it from Janson's History of Art (that is, Janson's later editors), but I looked on my shelf and that is not the case. This means that I got it from my professor, who did not make a particularly left-leaning impression and had started his career at a Catholic university.

He w
... See more
Maybe it's an art history thing: I started at the University of Illinois (hardly a bastion of any academic-PC ivory tower) in 1995 and know that I was immediately exposed to CE/BCE. I could have sworn that I got it from Janson's History of Art (that is, Janson's later editors), but I looked on my shelf and that is not the case. This means that I got it from my professor, who did not make a particularly left-leaning impression and had started his career at a Catholic university.

He was a specialist in Early Christian art, which might suggest another reason for his not using AD/BC: I think that there is a general consensus that Jesus was neither born in nor did any major event of his life occur in the year AD 1, so maybe my professor just found it embarrassing to perpetuate a historical error and thought it was more accurate to refer to the whole thing in terms of a convention ("common era").

I also never thought of the term as PC, but like Phil and others, I have to admit that I generally experience what most people refer to as PC as simply not being rude or ignorant.

I recently did a translation with "v. u. Z." and "n. u. Z." in the original German (= BCE and CE) and translated them as BCE and CE without thinking about it. I rarely work with subject matter that is that old, but I would assume that I have also used AD and BC before.

And I looked it up in the MHRA style guide and the Chicago Manual of Style: Both mention both systems (and Chicago also explains several others) but do not condone or condemn the use of either.

Judging by the response here, however, it is clearly politically incorrect to use CE and BCE for exhibition wall texts, so I guess the customer was right after all.
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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
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Local time: 20:12
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A digression: Apr 22, 2013

Joanna Rączka wrote:

As an atheist and pastafarian I do not feel offended with BC and AD.


I thought you had made a typo there, Joanna, but apparently not: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

Oh my: the Eight "I'd Really Rather You Didn'ts.

OK, back to the serious discussion.


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
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Caring Apr 22, 2013

Phil Hand wrote:

But much more important than this is, why do you care?



I don't.

I use one or the other, depending on context, potential readership and customer style guides.

In any case, the religious content in "AD" is more a matter of individual perception than of social connotation. For most people, it's just a numbering convention. On the other hand, I suppose we could switch to counting years in Olympiads, which are a bit more inclusive and less compromised by origins in currently popular belief systems.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
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Amen to that Apr 22, 2013

Giles Watson wrote:

I use one or the other, depending on context, potential readership and customer style guides.


And in this case, I have to agree with the consensus that AD/BC is more common in museums.


 

Debbie Nevo  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:12
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BC/BCE in academic texts, otherwise BC/AD Apr 22, 2013

I am a (Jewish) old fogey. When I was at a Jewish school in the UK many years ago, BC/AD was normal, although some Jewish Orthodox teachers used BCE/CE. In recent years I have come across the academic use of BCE/CE and it still strikes me as a bit strange (as does the fact that Word doesn't want me to use 'man-made' and tries to change it to 'manufactured' or 'fabricated': another example of over-PC). Nowadays I think I would use BCE/CE in an academic text and BC/AD when addressing the general ... See more
I am a (Jewish) old fogey. When I was at a Jewish school in the UK many years ago, BC/AD was normal, although some Jewish Orthodox teachers used BCE/CE. In recent years I have come across the academic use of BCE/CE and it still strikes me as a bit strange (as does the fact that Word doesn't want me to use 'man-made' and tries to change it to 'manufactured' or 'fabricated': another example of over-PC). Nowadays I think I would use BCE/CE in an academic text and BC/AD when addressing the general public, regardless of their religious affiliation.Collapse


 

inkweaver  Identity Verified
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Seriously? Apr 22, 2013

KKastenhuber wrote:
It IS possible to make people rethink e.g. traditional male vs. female role models by consciously making gender visible in language.


Seriously? That ridiculous Binnen-I (sorry, I don't know if there's a proper English term for this, it means the capitalisation of an "i" within a word in order to combine the masculine and the feminine form of a word into one word including both forms, e.g. LeserInnen, combining the both forms for "reader") has been around for more than 25 years now, still I don't see a serious change in many people's mind when it comes to traditional female and male roles. Quite the contrary, really. In fact, I am quite shocked to see that nothing has really changed in all those years and that some people who are obviously a lot younger than I am seem to harbour rather antiquated ideas when it comes to female/male roles.

All that politically correct language has, IMHO, done nothing to stop or reduce discrimination. Personally I believe that some politically correct terms have acquired worse connotations than the terms they were supposed to replace and I don't think that a prescribed language will do anything to change people's ways of thinking.

To get back to the original question regarding the use of BCE/CE: I never came across these terms when I read history of art in the UK but that is probably due to the fact that I'm a dinosaur...

[Edited at 2013-04-22 10:21 GMT]


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
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Local time: 12:12
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Emotional attachment Apr 22, 2013

I don't see many replies to this thread from this side of the Atlantic. I shamelessly admit to an emotional attachment to BC/AD, probably due to my Christian heritage, and have actually never thought about it, although I know BCE/CE is occasionally used in academic texts. I have only ever used BC/AD and have never had a question about it from any client. If I did, I would do what the client asked. I can hardly imagine BCE/CE gaining any popular headway for the foreseeable future on this side of ... See more
I don't see many replies to this thread from this side of the Atlantic. I shamelessly admit to an emotional attachment to BC/AD, probably due to my Christian heritage, and have actually never thought about it, although I know BCE/CE is occasionally used in academic texts. I have only ever used BC/AD and have never had a question about it from any client. If I did, I would do what the client asked. I can hardly imagine BCE/CE gaining any popular headway for the foreseeable future on this side of the Atlantic, where the vast majority of the English mother tongue population of the world lives.


...even though I know the anglophone person reading my text will be startled to see them still used in the year 2013.


Outside academia, anglophones on this side would be startled seeing BCE/CE, not the other way round.

[Edited at 2013-04-22 15:11 GMT]
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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
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Pressure from whom on whom Apr 22, 2013

Phil Hand wrote:

Inn literally every conversation I've ever been in about language or PC terminology, it is the "non/anti-PC" side who seem to be much more keen to press their views on me.


I disagree. Those with traditional and "politically incorrect" views only want to be left in peace to continue in their traditional ways. It seems to me that they (or I could say "we") are under pressure from social engineers who think they can exchange attitude which have existed for millions of years, believing all other ages were wrong and only this one could possibly have got it right.

Do you think that makes me "politically incorrect"? Thank you for the compliment!


MollyRose
 

NataliaAnne  Identity Verified
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"Over-PC" Apr 22, 2013

Debbie Nevo wrote:

...as does the fact that Word doesn't want me to use 'man-made' and tries to change it to 'manufactured' or 'fabricated': another example of over-PC...


This is another topic - albeit related - but you’ve got to be joking?


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
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Local time: 20:12
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you can't be serious, man! Apr 22, 2013

NataliaAnne wrote:

Debbie Nevo wrote:

...as does the fact that Word doesn't want me to use 'man-made' and tries to change it to 'manufactured' or 'fabricated': another example of over-PC...


This is another topic - albeit related - but you’ve got to be joking?


If man-made is unacceptable then manufactured should go the same way.

Humanufactured should do the trick. Or perhaps womanufactured if the company has a policy of only exploiting women...

Fabrication in English is surely a pack of lies? Perhaps this is the best suggestion of all, given industry's propensity for pretence!



 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
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On topic please Apr 22, 2013

Can I ask any further contributors to stay on the subject of dates.

Many thanks.


 

Tom in London
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Yes.... Apr 22, 2013

Russell Jones wrote:

Can I ask any further contributors to stay on the subject of dates.

Many thanks.



...or start a new thread on the usage of "Man" as in "Mankind", "manhole", "manpower" etc. That would be fun !


 

texjax DDS PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:12
חבר (2006)
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PC Apr 22, 2013





Russel, I think this can be considered related to AD/BC & PC, but please feel free to remove the post if you deem it inappropriate.


[Edited at 2013-04-22 15:15 GMT]


 

NataliaAnne  Identity Verified
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Back to the topic at hand Apr 22, 2013

Russell Jones wrote:

Can I ask any further contributors to stay on the subject of dates.

Many thanks.


Fair call – sorry about that. To come back to the topic, it is truly fascinating to see how many people have strong opinions on it. Personally, I used BCE/CE while I was studying art history (in Australia from 1999 to 2001) but know that BC/AD is preferred in other circles. While I agree that it’s best just to change it if that’s what the client wants, I think these forums are one of the only places translators can vent their frustrations over such client preferences. I know the vast majority of my friends and relatives couldn’t care less about this type of thing, so we need to be able to rant to each other!


 

Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
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@ texjax Apr 22, 2013

Thanks for the cartoons!

[Edited at 2013-04-22 21:07 GMT]


MollyRose
 
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