Archive for the ‘Faithfulness’ Category

Centres

January 3, 2015

Briefly noted: in the 11/15/14 issue of the Economist, p. 83 in “Unchained malady”, on testing drugs and vaccines for Ebola fever:

This is called a “step-wedge” design and will be ue by another American government organisation, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Centres. Well, the Economist is a British publication, so it uses the British spelling centre rather than the American spelling center. (And they do this consistently in this case.) But, wait! That would be fine for the common noun (a centre of intellectual activity, etc.). But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a proper name, and Centers is one of the words in it, so messing with its form is at least dubious.

It’s another conflict between faithfulness (Faith) — in brief, be failthful to the original, leave things the way you found them — and well-formedness (WF) — make them conform to your local practices. There’s no one “right” resolution of these conflicts, though you can make a case for one resolution or the other in specific cases. Here, altering a proper name for the sake of WF makes me very uneasy; it feels to me like insisting that in French contexts my personal name should be spelled Arnaud or Arnauld.

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