invariably, or inevitably?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by 0216monty, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. 0216monty Member

    Chinese - Cantonese, Mandarin
    "But I would also like to point out that as China is still a developing country, we may invariably encounter problems in making preparations for the Games. And I want to assure you that the Chinese people are most sincere in their desire to host a successful Olympic Games. I am sure the 1.3 billion Chinese people will greet visitors from all over the world with smile, and their goodwill will be fully reciprocated by the people from all over the world."

    The above remarks were excerpted from a press conference. It's a translation from Chinese to English. And I have doubts about the use of the word invariably here. Based on the original text in Chinese, what the speaker meant was that it is natural for China to make mistakes given that ....

    And I think invariably should be replaced by inevitably or what better words you may come up with. This is because the word invariably sounds like "always" to me. So to me, the attitude of the speaker was like:

    Yes, we may have problems, but what are you going to do? Don't forget that we're a developing country.

    Or am I mistaken? How does the word invariably sound to your native ears?
    How do you feel when someone tells you that he invariably makes mistakes?
  2. TurnLeft Member

    SW England
    British English
    In the Chinese version, is it certain that problems will occur or just very likely?

    If it were certain, I'd use inevitably.
    If it meant very likely, I'd say invariably.
  3. 0216monty Member

    Chinese - Cantonese, Mandarin
    It is highly likely that problems will occur in the Chinese version. Or I can say the Chinese word is a euphemism for certainty.

    So there's nothing wrong with invariably, right?

    I raised the question because I thought invariably only means always, often, etc. My Oxford dictionary doesn't tell me it also implies the possiblity of an event. :)
  4. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi Monty

    I see it differently from TurnLeft:)

    I see "invariably" as meaning "always", and, like you, I think "inevitably" would have been a better choice for the meaning you describe. The "may" doesn't quite fit either - I'd say as China is still a developing country, we will inevitably encounter problems.

    Another, more informal option would be "bound to": we are bound to encounter problems.
  5. 0216monty Member

    Chinese - Cantonese, Mandarin
    Thank you both for your help, although I'm still a little bit puzzled.
    I guess I should stick with Loob's opinion, as the meaning of "invariably" as "always" takes roots in my mind:)

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