RE: Editing for Non-Native Speakers of English

Subject: RE: Editing for Non-Native Speakers of English
From: Lyda Woods <lyda -at- pacbell -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 31 Mar 2002 11:03:53 -0800


Please send me a copy of your research paper when finished. I'm most
interested in this topic.

As a teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages and as a technical
writer, I think your topic is an important one.

Here are some of my observations that may be useful:

When editing for non-native speakers of English:

-be aware of the language transfer issues between your readers' native
language(s) and English (see Ann Raimes "Keys for Writers" for information
in this area).
-try not to use phrasal verbs such as "go over" meaning "to review"
-offer comprehension worksheet sections with the answers in the back - this
allows readers to privately check their comprehension and to go over parts
that they may have missed or misread (this may be especially important for
functional specifications docs which require in-depth comprehension before
technical specs are crafted). I've seen SW designed by non-native speakers
that was based primarily on the screen shots in the functional specs but did
NOT include the details and additions mentioned in the written text on the
very same page of the spec?! I saw this problem, however, as an area of
improvement mainly for Product Management which apparently did not develop
ways to build and evaluate comprehension of the functional spec materials.

-find other ways to develop comprehension skills such as discussion times
with the author or other key figures who can talk about the document and the
assumptions it is built upon
-interview non-native speakers where you work to find out directly from them
what kinds of language issues they have


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