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)
translations.

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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