Intermezzo: International Standard English

A couple of brief thoughts here and a funny anecdote. All related to transposition.

This was partially prompted by a potential job offer today that requested a translation into "international standard English". Perhaps you do not know what is meant by this, but an American translator working for companies in Germany certainly does.

Why? Because German companies almost always request British English. Now I have a general understanding of British English: You replace "z" with "s", there is often an "a" before words like "competency" or "permission" (where we leave it out in English), they say "in future" (as well as our "in the future"), etc.

But on the whole I am translating these German texts into American English with British orthography (although often the "z" is retained, especially in the financial texts). 10 years of working for the same outsourcers and numerous German companies via them has demonstrated that this approach succeeds. There has only been one or two complaints over this entire time that have related to some lack of a "British" style. Yet my style of translating surely evinces differences from the classical British idiom.

Perhaps it is for this reason that I had the amusing case of initially failing a German certification procedure for the same organization where I passed it for Russian three years ago. Indisputably I translate better from German into English (as a result of more experience). Furthermore, the client of the translation submitted for certification actually complimented me on the British English translation (compliments are exceedingly rare in the commercial business).

Now I submitted this translation under British English, and I can't help but wonder whether the very precise reviewers actually picked up the American idiom. The client, however, had requested not really British English, but this international standard English that prevails in continental Europe. It consists primarily of the American idiom with British spelling.

On appeal I passed the certification process, so don't be afraid...
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