RE: Funny Tech Writing

Subject: RE: Funny Tech Writing
From: "Lisa Bronson" <Lisa -dot- Bronson -at- ipaper -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 08:57:55 -0500

I want to make a comment about humor in translation.

About 3 years ago, I wrote a manual completely from scratch, to replace a
manual that was so full of errors and technical gobbledygook, that none of
our service techs or customers read it. I wanted to make sure that they
knew this was a new manual, so I made changes in the layout (even fondled a
few fonts), used a comb binding instead of our standard three-ring binder
format, made the cover blue instead of gray... and put a cartoon on the
first page of each chapter.

These custom cartoons were written by me and drawn by a guy who works in
our shop. To give you an example, one of them shows leaking milk cartons
coming out of a machine, and a guy putting away his tools, telling two
other guys who just walked up, "You guys are too late! I already got the
machine set up... and I didn't even hafta use the manual!!" I didn't use
humor in any other part of the manual, just straight forward active voice.

This manual has been translated into several languages, including
Simplified Chinese, Korean, French, Spanish, German, and Greek. Each time,
I told the translator to remove the cartoons if they would be a problem in
the new language. Each time, I was told the cartoons were great, and they
left them in, without exception.

Translation of humor has to be handled with care. But, it can be done.

Have a great Tuesday!
Lisa B

Lisa Bronson
Associate Technical Writer
Evergreen Packaging Equipment
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

"Writing about yourself is a tremendously powerful exercise. If you want to
know how accurately you perceive reality in the present, try writing about
your perception of your past. You just might discover an entirely new
reality."--Lisa Bronson

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