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 »  Articles Overview  »  Art of Translation and Interpreting  »  Translator Education  »  ING or S: A matter of ending

ING or S: A matter of ending

By Marcia Pinheiro | Published  11/26/2012 | Translator Education | Recommendation:
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Marcia Pinheiro
מאנגלית לפורטוגזית translator
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So, what rule tells us when to use ing and when to use s in expressions like Department of Accounting? Could we say Accounts Department or Department of Accounts and end up with the same world reference we had when saying Department of Accounting?

The answer is funny: No, we could not.

Basically, Accounting should remind us of the accountants and Accounts should remind us of where our money goes when we trust Mr. Bank.

What about Billing and Bills? Is it the same thing saying Bills Department and Billing Department? Are both expressions acceptable in the English language, as for rules of speech?

Expressions where the doubt arises are not missing: Housing Department or Houses Department? Financing Department or Finances Department? Operating expenses or operations expenses?

Finding a rule in this case seems to be impossible.

Basically, it is Housing Department, but we can have Financing Department (a department that finances) or Finances Department (a department that deals with finances). If we talk about expenses that we make because of the daily activity of a business, then we have operating expenses, but if we have expenses with medical operations, say, something like surgeries, then we cannot say operations expenses because the preposition that we used to form the expression was with, not of.

As for the title of this article: Why ending and not end?

Basically, we also have ends, to make it all worse, as in the ends do not justify the means… .

If we have a start, then we must have an end.

If we have a starting point, then we should have an ending point in the same way that we have a finishing point, is it not?

Whilst the word Billing ends with ing, the ending ing should not be seen as something very different from the ending s, do you agree?

What about the words on their own, like do we say killing or kill?

Interesting enough, the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, published in 2005, tells us that when it is an animal, then we have a kill, but when it is a person, then we have a killing (is it easy?).

We may act well in a certain situation and we may also do some good acting when on stage. For those who do not believe yet the idiosyncrasies of the English language, we may also watch the first and last acts of a play and not like them… .

Truth is that the acts of a play relate to acting in a different way to the way that killing relates to kills. And yet in another way do logging and logs relate… .

We understand that we get an extra g there, but, come on, what a shocking difference in what regards world references we see here : Cutting off trees and the pieces of the trees that we have cut off?

To make it all more interesting, and my interests do not stop becoming interesting (do they?), we have whaling but we do not have dolphining, have you noticed? Yet, why could we not be chasing dolphins, I wonder, or even crocodiles, so why could we not go, say, crocodiling someday (then do some crocodile dealing, perhaps closing some very profitable deals after that…).

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