"Since then, and up to date"

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Neike
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"Since then, and up to date"

Postby Neike » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:28 pm UTC

Long story here, but I got into an argument with some friends over the following sentences in a scientific paper:

"The first X was discovered in 1970. Since then and up to date, about twenty X have been discovered."

To me, "since then and up to date" sounds redundant and unnatural. To my mind, "since then" already implies "since then, until now". A French-speaking friend tells me that "since then and up to date" would be perfectly acceptable in French, and that adding the "up to date" implies that new research about X is about to be revealed - something that "since then" alone would not imply. I'm not convinced that the same is true in English. When I Googled "since then and up to date" as a phrase I only got 9 results.

Seems like this is kind of a ridiculous question, but I'd be interested to hear some other opinions and didn't know where else to ask :p

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Velifer
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Re: "Since then, and up to date"

Postby Velifer » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:45 pm UTC

Well, it may be that the writer was French, or knew quite a bit of French (note that the attributed author and the writer may be different people). Also, my initial reading was that the author was explicitly recognizing that another X could be discovered before the ink dried.

When was the paper written? Language changes, and the style of journal articles changes even more extremely.
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Re: "Since then, and up to date"

Postby yeyui » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:01 pm UTC

This construction seems wrong to me. First, "up-to-date" or "up to date" is generally used as an adjective, not a preposition. Example: "This list of examples is up-to-date." The related prepositional phrase is "to date". Example: "To date only forty-three men have been inaugurated as president of the United State of America under the Constitution."

"To date" includes all time before the present. "Since then" includes all time after a given event (up to the present). It is not clear what to make of a conjunction of the two prepositions. "To date" includes a strictly larger range of time that entire encompasses "since then". There are two reasonable interpretations, and both are equivalent to using just one of the two prepositions.

I suspect that what is trying to be expressed is what is more commonly worded as "Between then and the time of this writing...". Although in journal articles, a specific date is often given, since the date of authorship is not generally given, but rather a date of publication and possibly a date of acceptance or submission. So something like "Between then and January 2011..."

mzellman
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Re: "Since then, and up to date"

Postby mzellman » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:32 pm UTC

The most natural way to construct that phrase for most English speakers at any point since 1970 would probably be something like: "The first X was discovered in 1970; as of [date], about twenty X have been discovered." or "The first X was discovered in 1970; through [date], about twenty X have been discovered." Either of these two constructions would still carry the implication that the number of X that have been discovered is changing, or is expected to change soon. The time frame for discovery is fixed when you specify that the first was discovered in 1970, so the redundancy, in my mind, is in the phrase "since then," rather than the phrase "up to date."

(My background, since I'm fairly new here: English is the only language I speak fluently, but I have decent exposure to Spanish, and semester each of French, German, and Mandarin.)

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Re: "Since then, and up to date"

Postby Meteorswarm » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:11 am UTC

I, a native American English speaker from New Jersey, find the "up to date" usage here awkward. I would probably write something like, "about 20 have been discovered as of the time of writing" (which seems awkward now that I actually look at it, but I think it works fine if you're not looking at it with a linguistic lens) or "as of the time of writing, about 20 have been discovered."
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RebeccaRGB
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Re: "Since then, and up to date"

Postby RebeccaRGB » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:59 am UTC

"As of this writing" is what I usually end up doing. Both "since then" and "to date" also sound good, but not together. "Up to date" just sounds wrong: it's an adjective, as in "your software is now up to date" and "up-to-date news coverage," not a preposition or conjunction. I'd go with "to date."
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sjorford
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Re: "Since then, and up to date"

Postby sjorford » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:40 pm UTC

mzellman wrote:or "The first X was discovered in 1970; through [date], about twenty X have been discovered."

"Through" is only used in American English - it sounds weird to British ears.

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Re: "Since then, and up to date"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:27 pm UTC

Actually, that phrasing sounds strange to my (American) ears, as well.
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mzellman
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Re: "Since then, and up to date"

Postby mzellman » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:50 pm UTC

Yeah, it sounds funny to me, now, too. Scratch that.

KernowDragon
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Re: "Since then, and up to date"

Postby KernowDragon » Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:50 pm UTC

sjorford wrote:
mzellman wrote:or "The first X was discovered in 1970; through [date], about twenty X have been discovered."

"Through" is only used in American English - it sounds weird to British ears.


Yeah. To a Brit, "through" indicates that you're going through something, it has no connotations at all that involve stopping (until you physically have to). "April through November" in British English wouldn't make sense. The most literal translation we'd get would be "from April onwards, until at least November" (though of course, due to American TV shows, we'd know what you meant anyway).

"Through until" would be better, if a little clunky. "Up until" would be better still, but only if the date was fairly far back. "Up until 1970" sounds natural, as does "up until last Thursday". But "up until January 11th 2010" sounds iffy to my ears. Though I guess if I was reading it from the future it wouldn't, that's just because I know it's today.

Whatever, RebeccaRGB pretty much sums up my thoughts on the matter entirely.

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GenericPseudonym
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Re: "Since then, and up to date"

Postby GenericPseudonym » Wed Jan 12, 2011 12:27 am UTC

I'd be more likely to interpret "April through November" as "April to November inclusive" as opposed to your way, KernowDragon. (I'm American, for what it's worth.)

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Grop
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Re: "Since then, and up to date"

Postby Grop » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:50 pm UTC

I wonder what the (original?) French phrasing is. It's not obvious to me at all.

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Re: "Since then, and up to date"

Postby Captain Waffles » Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:05 am UTC

"The first X was discovered in 1970. Since then and up to date, about twenty X have been discovered."


This does look alot like most of the small errors I have seen when somebody has learned English as a second language (I do not mean to offend here :( ) and I do agree that it is redundant.

However on mzellman's contribution...

The most natural way to construct that phrase for most English speakers at any point since 1970 would probably be something like: "The first X was discovered in 1970; as of [date], about twenty X have been discovered." or "The first X was discovered in 1970; through [date], about twenty X have been discovered."


This is given that a present date is specified, and that is not true here. To allow for that you could easily use either one of the phrases used in the sentence.

"The first X was discovered in 1970. Since then about twenty X have been discovered." and "The first X was discovered in 1970. To date, about twenty X have been discovered."

These are both perfectly acceptable, however the latter seems more concise, and allows for less ambiguity.


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