14 October 2014

Order, qualifiers (same type, comma separated)

A quote from Defense Industry Daily of 12 October (my bold):
A $27.7 million firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive, cost-plus-fixed fee contract for 7 GQM-163A Coyote SSST base vehicles, including the associated hardware, kits and production support for the U.S. Navy (3 / $13.7M / 50%) and the government of Japan (4 / $14.0M / 50%). All funds are committed immediately.
I wonder what the rule might be to determine the order of the three qualifiers in bold?

Later (17 November):

I have now found time to review what some of my grammars have to say on this and related issues.
In Practical English Usage, under 'commas' (ref. 14.5, p9) (2nd ed.), Michael Swan writes:
"Before nouns, we generally use commas between adjectives (especially in long sequences) which give similar kinds of information, for example in physical descriptions.
            a lovely, long, cool, refreshing drink
            an expensive, ill-planned, wasteful project

I suggest that this can be extrapolated to cover complex qualifiers like those under discussion.
If this is correct, then the DID writers were definitely right to include the commas.
Given that the qualifiers 'firm-fixed-price', 'fixed-price-incentive' and 'cost-plus-fixed fee' are all of exactly the same nature, I further suggest that the order in which they are presented is of no consequence whatsoever.

Concerning the multiple designators 'GQM-163A', 'Coyote' and 'SSST':
'GQM-163A Coyote' is the name of the system (see here)
and SSST (for Supersonic Sea Skimming Target) the type
here mounted on a vheicle called a 'base vehicle'.

12 October 2014

War-talk in the 21st century

The Life & Arts section of the FT's weekend magazine contained an article that I found remarkable relevant to my narrow niche as a translator specialising in naval defence.

War-talk in the 21st century, by Sam Leith, is dated 10 October 2014. Sam is an FT columnist and the author of You Talkin’ to Me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama. And boy does he know his rhetoric and his war-talk!

I was about to quote multiple passages when I realised that I had marked up nearly half of my copy as seriously quotable. If you're interested in the topic, I can only suggest that you read it and mark it up for yourself.

So here are just a few quotes to pique the curiosity of translators, terminologists, rhetoricians and the like:

  • the conventional public vocabulary of war
  • The passive voice and the absent subject give us casualties that “occur”; “tragedies” that “take place”; women and children who “have been killed”. These incidents are “regrettable”.
  • The rationale for avoiding “Islamic State” – “it’s not Islamic and it’s not a state” – has passed swiftly from witticism to cliché.
  • “martyrdom operations”
  • “Blue on blue” – US military slang for friendly fire 
  • Today the implied audience for any given speech can be assumed to be multiple
  • The wars we fight now are interventions, proxy engagements, counterinsurgencies, peacekeeping missions, police actions, asymmetric engagements and hybrid wars. You may sprinkle your sceptical inverted commas through that list according to taste.

I repeat: a fascinating read.

Switching to Mac, take #2

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