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Re: Use of articles

Martin Eberhard Schauer wrote:
> recently i reviewed a translation on debian-l10n-german.
>>>> # German SquirrelMail Compatibility Plugin Translation File
>>>> ...
>>>> #, php-format
>>>> msgid "The file %s is missing from plugin %s."
>>>> msgstr "Die Datei %s fehlt der Erweiterung %s."
>>> (translated) I'm afraid the article is missing in the Englisch text.
>>> msgid "The file %s is missing from the plugin %s."
>>>                                   ^^^
>> (translated) IMHO no article is missing - it is often omitted in English texts.
>> I suggest asking a native speaker before filing a bug report.
> To me (i'm German) the example sounds very strange without an article.
> Until now i often considered  missing articles as mistakes.
> I would be grateful for an explanation regarding the correct use (and
> omission) of articles.

A definite article there seems like an improvement, but it's
somewhere well short of "Severity: grave".

The alternatives are 
 msgid "The file %s is missing from the plugin %s."
 msgid "The file %s is missing from plugin %s."

It's fairly common for articles to be elided in dialogue messages.
If that makes them mildly ungrammatical, that isn't necessarily
fatal - sometimes in this context it's conventional to prefer terse,
clear messages to grammatical ones.  After all, "SYNTAX ERROR" isn't
a sentence!

It's also a bit unclear whether this is "ungrammatical" or just a
stylistic issue.  Journalistic English produces sentences like:

 I interviewed world hopscotch champion Maisie Smith...

where the normal conversational style would be to introduce a
definite article (and/or rearrange things entirely).

Mind you, what kind of expansion is that %s going to get?  If it's a
name that readers are expected to recognise (or see as a
self-explanatory description) rather than a cryptic label then you
might be better off with:

 msgid "The file %s is missing from the %s plugin."

(I'd say "the logger plugin" but "the plugin sm-xyzlog.php"; see
JBR	with qualifications in linguistics, experience as a Debian
	sysadmin, and probably no clue about this particular package

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