RE: Humor in technical writing

Subject: RE: Humor in technical writing
From: Vickie Camgros <vcamgros -at- persistence -dot- com>
To: bdavis -at- acucorp -dot- com, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 09:55:30 -0700

At 9:42 AM -0700 9/28/00, bdavis -at- acucorp -dot- com wrote:

While I like humor as much as anyone, I can think of another reason why
humor in technical documents is a bad idea...translation. When manuals
have to be localized into German, French or Japanese (for example) many
jokes and US-centric cultural assumptions do not translate well. Prime
(if not exactly technical) examples are the infamous Chevy Nova ("doesn't
go" in Spanish)and Coca Cola ("bite the wax tadpole" in Chinese)

I don't have the quote quite accurate, but the fellow who translated the perl documentation said that the jokes fell into three categories:

1. Jokes that were funny in the <new language>. I translated these directly.
2. Jokes that weren't funny in the <new language/culture>. For these
I tried to find a cultural equivalent.
3. Jokes I did not get.

That last category can really kill you.

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