Terminology problem?

Subject: Terminology problem?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 9 Aug 2002 09:45:32 -0400


Margaret Gerard reports problems with people's names in American English:
<<We have a set of name fields on the interface which are labelled: Surname
/ Given name We thought these were OK but have now received customer
feedback from the
States indicating that they do not understand these terms. Would it be
better to use: Last name / First name (but what about names where the
surname is usually written first?) or should we use: Family name / Given
name.>>

Definitely use the last one; it's clearest and relies least on understanding
a relatively uncommon English term. Although the first option is technically
correct, it's not something you can count on an average audience
understanding. Your second point is well taken, since you'd confuse many
Chinese Americans as to your goal.

<<There are several helpful wewbsites which detail the differences between
British and American English but I haven't been able to find an answer to
this problem.>>

These sites can be a great aid, but never accept their advice blindly. For
example, you'll often see advice on numerical date formats (DD/MM/YY etc.)
that is technically correct, but that simply doesn't work in practice. Here
in Canada, for example, we use pretty much any possible permutation of the
order of the three parts of the date format: American, Canadian, and
Quebecois. And we use them inconsistently. So even if you picked a date
format that's technically correct, you're going to confuse a whole batch of
your audience. Stick with using the name of the month and you'll never run
into this problem--something that the Web sites won't tell you.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/usersadvocate.html
"The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can
think."--Edwin Schlossberg, designer (1945- )


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Save up to 50% with RoboHelp Deluxe. Get 2 great products for 1 low price!
You'll get RoboHelp Office PLUS RoboDemo, the software demonstration tool
that everyone's been talking about. Check it out and save!
http://www.ehelp.com/techwr-l

TECHWR-L is supported by ads and sponsorships...and donations.
You can help maintain the TECHWR-L community with donations
at http://www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/abouttechwhirl/donate.html

---
You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/ for more resources and info.


Follow-Ups:

Previous by Author: Technical writers and multimedia?
Next by Author: Terminology problem? (take II)
Previous by Thread: RE: terminology problem
Next by Thread: RE: Terminology problem?


What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads


Sponsored Ads