Monday, February 15, 2010

An Essential American English Reference Work for Translators

As I was working on my fourth Spanish grammar book for intermediate students, I had need to clarify a comparison I was making between the simple future tense in Spanish and the use of will and shall in English. An English professor and colleague of mine told me it was a very sticky issue and handed me a copy of Garner's A Dictionary of Modern American Usage. I had read Fowler's famous Modern English Usage, and read it with pleasure for its now quaint English veneer, as well as the American work by Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum, A Concise Grammar of Contemporary English and appreciate still its academic thoroughness. However, Garner's book is one of those reference works you can spend hours with as if it were a story. And in a way, it is the story of American English, something to be read while keeping John Ciardi's A Browser's Dictionary by your side.

Since so many translators and interpreters working in the USA are not native speakers of English, they would profit by spending some time with these books, in particular Garner's. 

I recommend them all with gusto.

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