Belaboring the point?

April 22, 2010

Interest in voting jumps after UK election debate

Until the debate, the main contest was between Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labor Party, in power for 13 years, and the opposition Conservatives led by David Cameron, who have been ahead in the opinion polls for more than two years.

Labor Party? Why would you change the spelling on a proper name into American English? In effect, you have translated a proper name from one language to the next. “Labour Party” is a proper name (you’ve capitalized it).

It is not proper to change the spelling of a proper name across languages, nor to translate a proper name across languages (or dialects). You could not change the name Richard Blower to Richard Telephone for your British readers, or Nancy Lew to Nancy Toilet. That would be ridiculous and “illegal,” if you will. Prime Minister Margaret Roofer!

We do not change Guiseppi Verdi to Joe Green, no matter how pleasant it is to our American ear. We don’t change Alcoa, the Aluminum Company of America, to the Aluminium Company of America.

I enjoy your writing and hope that you agree with my positive criticism.

Terry S.

Thanks, but you didn’t have to go to all that trouble. You’re preaching to the choir.

It is not our style to tamper with proper nouns in English. We shouldn’t change the British Labour Party to Labor Party for U.S. readers, any more than we should change Australia’s Labor Party to Labour Party for our British audience.

This was just the result of someone being trigger-happy with a spell-check program.

Unfortunately, it’s happened several times recently, and we should be more careful about it: GBU Editor

A Labour Party supporter holds a placard near daffodils in Cardiff April 21, 2010. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

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