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  1. Newbie
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Latvian, Lettish
      • Home Country:
      • Latvia
      • Current Location:
      • Latvia

    • Join Date: Aug 2012
    • Posts: 1
    #1

    Voluntary + Compulsory

    When talking of some requirements laid down by law, there's an ironic way in some languages in which to speak of something that is voluntary in theory but compulsory in practice or unavoidable due to circumstances. To give an example, in Russian this combination of words is "в добровольно-принудительном порядке".

    Is there a neat way of saying this (or conveying a similar thought) in British English neatly other than translating the phrase literally as "voluntary-compulsory" so that it does not stand out as an example of broken English?

    Thank you very much!

  2. charliedeut's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Spanish
      • Home Country:
      • Spain
      • Current Location:
      • Spain

    • Join Date: Oct 2009
    • Posts: 5,560
    #2

    Re: Voluntary + Compulsory

    Hi,

    I figure that, if the people who are with me when speaking of it would understand me, I would say "voluntary" with air-quotes. I don't know whether there is a word in English for what you mean; we'll have to wait for natives on that one.

    charliedeut
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 12,310
    #3

    Re: Voluntary + Compulsory

    People sometimes speak of being "volunteered" for an assignment or something like that at work. The use of the passive makes it clear that they did not really choose to volunteer, but rather had an assignment put on them by a boss.

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