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Two sentences, which one is better?


Kenny同志
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Here are two sentences translated from the same piece of Chinese.

version 1: Titanium and its alloys, which have low density, possess the excellent characteristics of resisting corrosion in most media.

version 2: Titanium and its alloys, which are of low density, excel at resisting corrosion in most media.

Which one do you prefer, and why?

Any comments are welcome.

Edited by kenny2006woo
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Of the two options given, the second is certainly the better one.

"the excellent characteristics of resisting corrosion" is a very subjective judgement. It sounds more suitable for an advert than a scientific description of the qualities of an element and its compounds. As an aside, isn't this just one "characteristic" anyway?

However, the choice of the word "media" seems a little odd to me, so I'm not sure either translation is ideal.

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Surrounding context would be useful to understand the importance of 1) low density and 2) resistance to corrosion. Then perhaps a better formulation would be possible.

Regarding the two sentences you propose, I'd combine them. Take the second, but say "have low density" than "which are of low density". The second one sounds literary to me, the first one is more straight-forward.

"Media" is not a problem as it is the plural of "medium", like water, air, etc. It is the correct technical term, though context would help again to understand the importance.

Generally, in technical writing, I try to avoid overly complex formulations, as the sentences (and the subject matter) are complex enough on their own. The first sentence in unnecessarily complex, IMHO, and the second one is more to the point.

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I checked up on the use of the term 'medium' in the context of corrosion, and it seems that it is all right, though possibly carries a more precise technical meaning than 'environment' which is the term I would have used myself.

In this book title, 'media' corrosion seems to be distinguished from 'atmospheric' corrosion. The wikipedia entry on corrosion includes the word 'medium' only twice, while the word 'environment' is used more times than I could be bothered to count.

So I would probably use the term 'environment' unless there was a good reason to use 'medium', but this good reason could well be provided if I knew the context.

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In addition to the unnecessary complexity already mentioned in previous posts, both of your sentences convey that the alloys have a low density but that titanium itself has not. Is that what you truly mean? Furthermore, the first sentence is pompous.

My suggestion: Titanium and its alloys have low density and resist corrosion in most media.

I avoided the "excel" for that reason, the more so since in some media they don't resist corrosion.

Headlines always have a minimum of words for a good reason!

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"Environment" is a more general term that encompasses many things, including temperature, humidity, medium, etc.

"Medium" here implies that the titanium will be immersed in water, or acid, or some gas, etc. Some materials will corrode in air, but not underwater, etc. So it's more specific in that sense.

But it's hard to know what exactly is implied without the context. I also admit to not being a material scientist. But "medium" is a commonly used word in sciences.

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The original Chinese and the original English translation are as follows:

钛及其合金密度小,…… 在大多数介质中具有优异的耐腐蚀性。

Titanium and its alloys, which have small density, … possess the excellent characteristics of enduring corrosion among most media.

Version one in my first post was a revised version by an American professional, but I found it looked clumsy so I re-edited it.

version 2: Titanium and its alloys, which are of low density, excel at resisting corrosion in most media.

It seems that texts in science and technology are pervasive with nouns, but I think too many of them can make our language weak. Take for example a sentence I saw in The Translator’s Guide to Chinglish by Madam Joan Pinkham, whom I admire very much,

The original:

In such a case, simple application of a screwdriver should be used to tighten screw. Failure to tighten the screw can eventually lead to disengagement of the handle.

Revised version by Pinkham:

If this happens, simply tighten the screw with a screwdriver; otherwise, the handle may come off.

I prefer Pinkham’s version, but at the same time I am confused, for most of the literature in science and technology is rife with nouns. So I was wondering as a native speaker, which style you like better, noun-pervasive style or more-verb style.

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If it's good enough for Joan Pinkham, it's good enough for me. See also Plain English - doing battle with our lawyers and politicians since 1979. Scientists aren't necessarily clear writers.

Titanium and its alloys are low-density and corrosion-resistant.

The trouble with sending that in to a client is that they'd want to know where all the words went.

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version 1: Titanium and its alloys, which have low density, possess the excellent characteristics of resisting corrosion in most media.

I was going to post earlier, and then abandoned my post, because I couldn't express clearly what I wanted to say. But I've just thought of something else on reading this sentence again.

Apart from anything else, I think the way "excellent" has been used is not appropriate. Here, it seems like "excellent" is modifying "characteristic". In other words, being resistant to corrosion is an "excellent characteristic". It doesn't say, in the case of titanium alloys, whether they actually resist corrosion well or not. Grammatically, there is nothing wrong with the sentence, but it doesn't actually express the intended meaning accurately (although, admittedly, I guess most people would interpret it the way it was intended anyway).

I think Roddy's translation is succinct. Alternatively, you could say something like: Titanium and its alloys, which are of low density, have excellent resistance to corrosion. (This also avoids the dubious use of the word "media".)

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Apart from anything else, I think the way "excellent" has been used is not appropriate.
This is what I was going to say about the first version. From the Chinese, it seems it is saying it has "excellent corrosive resistance" rather than "the excellent characteristics of resisting corrosion" (the emphasis being that it resists corrosion well, rather than resisting corrosion is an excellent characteristic to have). I also agree that simple is better and think that removing the comma separated sub-sentence in the middle of the main sentence makes it read more smoothly.

Overall I think I prefer animal world's version over roddy's (sorry) because it's not always corrosion-resistant, and I think having that caveat in there is important.

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Animal world's version: Titanium and its alloys have low density and resist corrosion in most media.

Roddy's version: Titanium and its alloys are low-density and corrosion-resistant.

Roddy, your revision is very professional, but I agree with Imron, it is important to add the supplementary condition, i.e. “ in most media”.

In Animal World’s version, would it be better to insert “well” between “corrosion” and “in” , it seems necessary.

Thanks all for your input!

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the way "excellent" has been used is not appropriate

This is the point I was making when I referred to avoiding subjective judgements. That an element 'excels' at resisting corrosion can be determined objectively with reference to other elements. However, whether this characteristic is itself considered 'excellent' is a subjective judgement depending on what you want to use it for. For instance, it wouldn't be an excellent characteristic for a sacrificial anode.

It's an unscientific way of writing (as well as sounding like Chinglish).

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