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Subject:Re: being too picky? (long) From:"Sierra Godfrey" <kittenbreath -at- hotbot -dot- com> To:techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com Date:Fri, 23 Jun 2000 13:46:27 -0700
Isn't it part of a technical writer's job to help whoever the audience may be to understand the term? Therefore, if you know that the audience may interpret the definition any of several ways, you need to craft it so it can't slant one way or another. It's not being toopicky. We writers just know that words are tricky and can mean so many things. Isn't English wonderful that way? Where, if you're Polish, you can polish the silver.
I work with a lot of Russian engineers and they often want me to take control of the grammaer, just as in your case, because they're insecure in their English. So sometimes what I have to do when I get an answer like the one your SME gave you is to phrase the question like: "Is the point this, or is it that?" In other words, spell it out for him what the choices are for seeing the setence two different ways.
On Fri, 23 Jun 2000 10:30:54 Rock, Megan wrote:
>Sometimes I wonder if we writers are too picky. I think we tend to see the
>different "possible interpretations" because we understand and are
>fascinated with language and communication, but if the SME doesn't think
>there is any room for the reader to misunderstand, will the user pick up on
>the different possible interpretations we writers see?
>I suppose it boils down to the fact that we all tend to read and interpret
>things differently regardless of how carefully something is worded, but I
>sometimes ask myself, "If the original version made sense to the SME and the
>other two guys who reviewed it (they're actually part of my target
>audience), who am I to come in and tweak the wording to match my own
>grammatical style and then ask them, 'Hey, did I change the meaning much
>when I rewrote it this way?'"