Monday, December 17, 2012

Not to introduce a sentence topic with "For"

It's not uncommon to hear Chinese speaking English say "For" to introduce a sentence-level topic, e.g.

The two programs, A and B, work together. Program A is easy and we already talked about it. For Program B, I don't know if we can work on it now.

Obviously, the word "For" should be "As for", "As to", "Regarding", "As regards", "Concerning", "As far as ... is concerned", or "When it comes to". But for some reason, many Chinese use the single word "For".

A Chinese sentence can be preceded by a standalone topic noun phrase for emphasis or other reason, as in

(Program B, I don't know if we can work on it now.)

while the literal English translation in the parentheses is less common. This is technically called fronting (in the Chinese sentence) and left-dislocation (in the literal English translation). But I don't think that can explain why so many Chinese artificially introduce the noun phrase with "For".

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