Margaret Marks has a post called “Resp. and other non-existent English words,” about Germans transferring usages from their own language to English, where they cause befuddlement. She mentions “the word furtheron, which seems like a combination of weiterhin and furthermore” and says, “Recently I saw a.o., clearly meaning among others. Of course, German unter anderem really means inter alia or among other things, not among others, so that too was misused.” But the main part of her entry concerns a word that always vaguely puzzled and annoyed me back when I had to plow through German linguistics journals:
Now I have read a query from someone on a forum with a German member whose English is very good. However, he keeps including the abbreviation ‘resp.’ in his postings, and English speakers can’t make sense of it. Here are two examples:
There are two kinds of suitable Polyurethane foam. One is single component. Works well, only requires some water moisture resp. wetness to
react and set.
And I see that the vast majority of users resp. members still would like
to post ‘Wanted’ ads here.
To quote the questioner:
I thought at first it meant “with respect to”, but I think he’s actually using it to offer an alternative word for the one he has just used. I suspect he’s using a literal translation of a German abbreviation, but it doesn’t quite get his meaning across in English.
This is interesting, because every time I read resp. I know from German what the writer means. Beziehungsweise usually means and or or. But respectively has a narrower meaning: ‘each separately in the order mentioned’, to quote the Longmans Dictionary of Contemporary English. Example:
Classes A, B, and C will start their exams at 9.30, 10.00 and 10.30 respectively.
Beziehungsweise can mean this, but more often it is used the way the German uses resp. above: water or wetness, members or users.
It makes me wonder what mistakes are typical of English-speakers writing in other languages.