Grammar question - is this correct

Hi, all!

A friend was looking over the English supplement to her diploma and questions the grammar of the following:
“This diploma issued in the Republic of Poland.”

It doesn’t strike me as wrong, but it’s mostly gut feeling, which makes for uninteresting Internet discussions. As I’m no grammar expert, I decided to ask the SD to weigh in on the issue.
So, wrong, sort of wrong, or just fine?

Needs a “was” between “diploma” and “issued” to be a complete sentence, yes?

So in answer to your final question - I’m going to say “wrong” if the intent was to have a full sentence. And “fine” if the intent was simply to communicate that the diploma was issued in the Republic of Poland.

I agree, although one could argue that it’s a sentence with the word “was” understood.

It’s the same kind of construction as things like “This page intentionally left blank,” of which I found some discussion here. It might also be considered an example of “headlinese.”

Actually, it can also imply “is being issued” rather than “was”, since it was a present-tense phrase at the time it was created…

It seems like documentation, like diplomas, coupons, or other such items will omit words in sentences. I think it somehow confers formality to the writing. How that tradition started, I don’t know.

This is very typical bureaucratese English and in that sense is absolutely correct. Virtually every official document I’ve ever seen has such phrases. It’s a lot like “No Parking” isn’t a proper English sentence – it really should be “You are not permitted to park here”. I am on record as making numerous arguments in favor of proper English usage, but even I accept bureaucratese! :wink:

^Fair enough, in concept. But I think it’s even wrong bureaucratese. It should be “Diploma issued in the Republic of Poland.” :wink:

BTW - since this is the Dope, I’ll add the caveat: my answer assumes that “the Republic of Poland” is indeed how Poland officially styles itself. As opposed to “The People’s Republic of Poland” or the “Free State of Poland” or whatever. :wink:

I disagree. Remember that bureaucratese is both terse and extremely precise. “Diploma issued in the Republic of Poland” could be taken to mean “this guy has had some kind of diploma issued to him at some time back in Poland”. Whereas the addition of “This diploma …” confirms to the skeptical that, indeed, this very piece of paper is actually a diploma, and it was issued in the Republic of Poland. :slight_smile:

It is grammatically correct.

The question of adding “is” or “was” or omitting the “this” are all points of style, not grammar.

If it doesn’t sound glaringly wrong to a literate native speaker, whatever you’re discussing probably isn’t grammar.

Depends on the context. If it is only an explanatory note, it is fine – “Packied in USA for Piggloy Wiggly”.

A self-refuting statement?


We usually use the verb “issue” with passive constructions (“my passport was issued in Dublin”) but active constructions are perfectly valid (“smoke issued from the funnel, showing that the boilders had been lit”). “This diploma issued in the Republic of Poland” is grammatically and semantically correct and does not require any implication of an auxiliary “was”. It’s just a slightly uncommon idiom.

Every time I’m working with a document with one of those, I’m severely tempted to revise it to say: “This Page Unintentionally Left Blank.”

“Correct” is not particularly meaningful when applied to language.

To whom would you propose to appeal a decision?

It’s just fine, by the way.

This decision rendered by the Chief Pedant; worth at least 50 decisions from the polloi.

I would argue that this is not active voice. It is still passive voice as the diploma did not do the issuing Active voice would be “The Republic of Poland issued this diploma.”

No. The verb “to issue” can be transitive or intransitive. “The diploma issued in Poland” is the active voice, and the diploma did indeed do the issuing. Just as “smoke issued from the funnel” is the active voice, and the smoke does the issuing.

And, on a nitpick, “the Republic of Poland issued this diploma” means something quite different from the statement in the OP. A diploma issuing in the Republic of Poland is not necessarily issued by the Republic of Poland.

I don’t think the verb “issue” can be intransitive, at least with the meaning in question. Do you have an example of this?

“Post Street was empty when Spade issued into it.” (If it’s good enough for Dashiell Hammett, it’s good enough for me.)

“All wisdom, all happiness, all virtue, are held to issue directly from his leadership and inspiration.” (If it’s good enough for George Orwell, it’s good enough for me. This is from 1984.)

“Smoke issued from the funnel.” (It’s good enough for me.)

“Documents issuing from the papal chancery bore,…the lead seal-impression which is known as a bulla.” (From an explanation of why certain papal documents are known as “bulls”.)

The last example is particularly pertinent, because it could just as easily have been worded “documents issued from the papal chancery . . .” This highlights that the verb can be transitive or intransive, and in some contexts either will do.

These uses of *issue *don’t really have the same meaning as the diploma one, to wit: to give someone something in an official way.

This one works, but I’d like to see it as the main verb of a sentence.

That definition of “issue” obviously requires a transitive verb, since you define it as giving something to someone in an official way. Your definition requires a direct object. Naturally, no intransitive use of “issue” is going to invoke that definition.

However the verb as used in the OP doesn’t have, and doesn’t require, an object. It seems to me that the OP invokes a sense of “issue” such as this one:

“to come out or be sent out, esp. officially or publicly; to be published or released”.

I get that definition from the Oxford English Dictionary, which is also where I found the quote about papal bulls, which the OED offers to illustrate that definition.

“A minister from France was hourly expected when the proclamation issued.” (- Thomas Jefferson, no less.)

“Before money can legally issue from the treasury for any purpose, there must be a law authorizing an expenditure.” (- Alexander Hamilton)

“The number of coins issuing from the mint each year varies considerably.” (- some guy called A. Crump.)

“Regional reports issue from various parts of the country.” (- S O Hogan, the distinguished author of The Judicial Branch of State Government)

I got all these quotes from the OED as well.

(FWIW, the sentence quoted in the OP could also invoke another intransitive sense of “issue”, viz. " to originate at or from a place".)

Thank you all for the replies.

Glad to see my gut feeling was not wrong.

I knew I could count on the SDMB to comment on a language issue. :slight_smile: