RE: Lingua Franca Today

Subject: RE: Lingua Franca Today
From: Marguerite Krupp <mkrupp -at- cisco -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 09:03:33 -0500


This discussion has started taking a lot of twists and turns, so I went back
to Kelley's original message, the gist of which was the following:

"The border gateway protocol (BGP) is a critical component of the
Internet's routing infrastructure. It serves as a lingua franca between
routers made by different manufacturers. When a company needs to move
information from Manhattan to Milan in the click of a mouse, routers speak
BGP to one another in order to move network traffic without losing it."

I have written about BGP, and while this paragraph does capture the essence
of the protocol's function. I would suggest, however, that any phrase that
calls attention to itself, as most non-English phrases in an
English-language document would do, is an unnecessary distraction. The
executive in Kelley's original post stopped reading for the meaning of the
report and started thinking about that particular phrase.

IMHO, one of the trickiest parts of tech writing is keeping our readers
reading the stuff; that is, keeping them focused on our real meaning. So,
it's a good idea to eliminate those distractions. Don't give them the
opportunity to tune out. Typically, foreign words and phrases (such as
"lingua franca") appear in Italics, too, further increasing the distraction.

The phrase, "common dialect," or some equivalent, gets the idea across
without the distraction factor.


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