Re: Research Request

Subject: Re: Research Request
From: "Dick Margulis" <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com, mgos -at- lee -dot- edu
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 100 08:37:34 -0500


I think you've proposed a false dichotomy. The "discipline of English" has two senses that describe the skills and predispositions of two groups of people (with some overlap, of course).

There are those (like me) who did well in their English courses in public school because they were good at learning and applying rules of prescriptive grammar, at spelling, at diagramming sentences (yeah, I know I'm dating myself with that one). And somewhere along the line they learned to write expository prose with some degreee of competence.

Many within this group were also attracted to math, science, and technology. There is no conflict or dissonance, internal or external, to be found here.

Then there are those for whom the "discipline of English" revolves around their fascination with the story. These are the people who are likely to have become English Literature majors in college. They are also likely to have dreamt at some point of writing fiction or poetry for a living.

Where the two groups overlap is that both include people for whom the sound of the English language is magical and mesmerizing. These people all, on the surface at least, may qualify for writing jobs where the ability to cast a good paragraph is the sole hiring criterion. But I think the English Literature types who dissemble their way into tech writing jobs are soon found out--or soon find themselves out, as your question implies--and do not last long in the field.

Perhaps journalism is a field where you will find more of the dissonance you seek.

Just a thought,


Michael Gos wrote:

> I am researching a particular kind of on-the-job culture clash in technical writers, that is, the juxtaposition of the disciplines of English and Science (or math, or engineering). I am interested in hearing from anyone who experiences job dissonance because of this apparent clash.

Often viewed as incompatible, English and Science come together in a unique way in the career of tech writer.

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