Translator who loves her work (perevodchik_spb) wrote in linguaphiles,

Year number as a modifier

Which one is better:
1) "the 2010 Agreement on the Status of Junior Officials and Members of Their Families"
of
2) "the Agreement on the Status of Junior Officials and Members of Their Families, signed in 2010"?
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  • 18 comments

helle_d

February 27 2014, 15:04:20 UTC 9 months ago

The first one, definitely.

perevodchik_spb

February 27 2014, 19:10:08 UTC 9 months ago

Thank you. And what do you think about "the Agreement on the Status of Junior Officials and Members of Their Families of 2010"?

dorsetgirl

February 27 2014, 22:09:32 UTC 9 months ago

No. That sounds like "their families of 2010" as if you're trying to distinguish them from "their families of 2014".

"the Agreement of 2010 on the Status of Junior Officials and Members of Their Families" would be better. But I agree that your option 1 is better than that.

pickledginger

February 27 2014, 15:05:20 UTC 9 months ago

I would favor the first.

In general, I am not fond of constructions that increase the distance between the modifier and the modified, nor ones that unnecessarily increase the number of subsidiary clauses.

perevodchik_spb

February 27 2014, 19:10:20 UTC 9 months ago

Thank you. And what do you think about "the Agreement on the Status of Junior Officials and Members of Their Families of 2010"?

whswhs

February 27 2014, 16:03:14 UTC 9 months ago

Another, more formal option is "the Agreement of 2010 on . . .".

perevodchik_spb

February 27 2014, 19:10:29 UTC 9 months ago

Thank you. And what do you think about "the Agreement on the Status of Junior Officials and Members of Their Families of 2010"?

whswhs

February 27 2014, 19:28:33 UTC 9 months ago

As a copy editor, I would at least question it, because it has an alternative reading: as about "their families of 2010," that is, the families they have in 2010 (and not applying to the families they have in any other year). I dislike sentence orders that can be read in two different ways with different meanings.

switchercat

February 27 2014, 16:09:56 UTC 9 months ago

The first strikes me as ambiguous (devoid of context, anyway), so I would probably use the second. That phrasing makes it unclear whether the agreement is actually called "2010 Agreement on the Status of Junior Officials and Members of Their Families," or just "Agreement on the Status of Junior Officials and Members of Their Families," coincidentally being modified by the "2010."

It's interesting that this ambiguity wouldn't exist if "2010" was replaced with an adjective that began with a lowercase letter, like "aforementioned," but it would remain unclear if it was replaced with "Montanan" or something like that. The problem is that, when "2010" functions as an adjective in this way, it obviously can't be capitalized or lowercased, which would normally be the clue indicating whether or not it's part of some kind of title.

(Context: I don't quite know what "better" means to you, but I work as an editor, and so am interpreting the question as "What you would do if you were editing a piece of writing with this phrase in it?")

perevodchik_spb

February 27 2014, 19:10:38 UTC 9 months ago

Thank you. And what do you think about "the Agreement on the Status of Junior Officials and Members of Their Families of 2010"?

philena

February 27 2014, 17:11:05 UTC 9 months ago

The first one is definitely better (although switchercat makes a very good point about the ambiguity of 2010 in that case). If you have the freedom to make any other changes, I think it would be better to say "family members" rather than "members of their families." "Family members" is both appropriately formal and more idiomatic, and the title of the agreement is long enough already that you should simplify wherever you can.

perevodchik_spb

February 27 2014, 19:10:54 UTC 9 months ago

Thank you. And what do you think about "the Agreement on the Status of Junior Officials and Members of Their Families of 2010"?

philena

February 27 2014, 20:54:13 UTC 9 months ago

Not so great. "2010" is modifying "Agreement", and if it's at the end of the expression it sounds like it's trying to modify "Families" or "Members." Logically, of course, we know it has to apply to "Agreement", but working through the logic takes just a little too long.

frances_bea

February 27 2014, 18:01:30 UTC 9 months ago

I would actually prefer the second one in the limited case where there is only one agreement by this name, and the comma-separated "signed in 2010" is only there to supply additional information about this singular agreement. Though the second phrasing doesn't strongly imply that the 2010 agreement was the only such agreement, it seems to at least suggest that this might be the case. (If "signed in 2010" was both preceded and followed by a comma, then it would more heavily indicate that there might be only one agreement.)

If the agreement was one of a series of similar agreements, (e.g. not the 2008 or 2012 Agreement on the Status of Junior Officials and Members of Their Families), or if it's unknown whether this agreement replaces a previous document or has been since replaced, then I think the first one is better.

houseboatonstyx

February 27 2014, 18:12:37 UTC 9 months ago

agree

perevodchik_spb

February 27 2014, 19:11:34 UTC 9 months ago

Thank you very much for your very thoughtful comment. And what do you think about "the Agreement on the Status of Junior Officials and Members of Their Families of 2010"?

frances_bea

February 27 2014, 20:55:01 UTC 9 months ago

I agree with whswhs's comment above on this. The "of 2010" would presumably be modifying "agreement", and yet it is quite distant from the word "agreement" without any explicit breaks (like the comma before "signed in 2010). Since the "of 2010" would by default be expected to modify the closest fitting noun or noun-phrase, the reader has to search a bit to figure out is meant. Even if they come to the correct conclusion, which I think is quite likely, the awkward word order is likely to derail their reading for a few moments.

thekumquat

February 27 2014, 23:07:28 UTC 9 months ago

The first, unless you are trying to draw attention to the date it was signed (as opposed to being agreed, coming into force, etc)

The ...of 2010 at the end sounds odd unless contrasting with the 2002 version.

I use constructions like the first all the time at work.