Finding your style
"Keeping your clothes well pressed will keep you from looking hard pressed."
-Coleman CoxThe words people write are very much like the clothes they wear. Youcould say that the major role of clothes is to protect us from theelements. However, if we pause to think of the role they play, we will seethat keeping us warm (or cool) is only one facet. Just as it is importantto put a period at the end of each sentence, it is also important to weara tie to a formal event or a dark suit to a funeral. Likewise, if you aregoing to go swimming you would most likely wear a bathing suit. Inmany cases, the kind of clothes that we according to the occasion andthe way that we wear them can make all the difference.Like it or not, people judge other people based on appearances. A nattysuit at a job interview may not get you the job in and of itself, but it islikely to help rather than hinder you. If you button the top button of your shirt (at least in my country when I was growing up) you wereconsidered to be a nerd. So this might not help a young man on a date,even though the shirt and the young man are nice.Language works very much the same as clothes. There are usually manyways and many words to express your ideas. You may be understood if you use any of the options available to you. However, according to howyou phrase your thoughts and your intended audience, the impressionyou make may greatly vary. I clearly remember a sign on a coffee tableat an employee lounge in an office where I once worked. It said "
Kindly remove your clutter
". Though I never left any "clutter" behind, I alwaysdisliked the use of that word. To me, it meant that staff were guilty of leaving things piled all over the table and not picking up after ourselves.I would have preferred to have seen something like: "
Please keep thistable clear
", or even "
Please help us keep this table clean
." The messageof all three signs is more or less the same, and perfectlycomprehendable, but they are "dressed" differently and thereforereceived differently.We as translators are also writers, and as writers we are entitled to ourown style. Open any book and read any paragraph. You will immediatelyrecognize that the author has his or her own way of writing. We canwrite longish sentences broken up with semicolons and connectingwords like therefore, although and however, or we can chop them upinto smaller units that end with a period. We can choose whether we