RE: The New Communication (was Formality going Bye, Bye)

Subject: RE: The New Communication (was Formality going Bye, Bye)
From: "Bonnie Granat" <bgranat -at- granatedit -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 13 Feb 2006 12:32:08 -0500

> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> [mailto:techwr-l-bounces -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of
> Phillip Gochenour
> I was writing on-screen instructional text for commercial banking
> applications, and kept having a conflict with one of the
> editors who was
> reviewing my work. The conflict revolved around strict
> grammar, such as
> using "then" as a conjunction ("enter information, and then press
> Submit" v. "enter information, then press Submit.") My
> argument was one
> that I have been using since I first started working with interactive
> media: this is a new medium that requires new forms of communication
> that are not direct copies of communication methods from print. The
> strict grammarian wanted everything to be perfect English,
> where I felt
> that an economy of text and instructional clarity were the paramount
> concerns. Her's was a print-based paradigm, where I wanted to
> reflect a
> style that was less formal and more geared to the "grammatical
> understanding," if you will, of online users.

And an editor would respond that when you deviate from correct English, you
(1) draw attention to your idiosyncratic use of the language and (b) offer
an opportunity for your reader to stumble. Far from being economical,
nonstandard use of English causes your audience to experience time and
energy losses. The objection to nonstandard English is not made strictly
because the usage is nonstandard; after all, nonstandard usage is usually
how the language changes. But changing the language is not something a
technical writer ought to be doing. Challenging the understanding of the use
of the language is a task for creative writers, not technical writers.
Nonstandard usage draws attention to the writer, not the message.

Bonnie Granat


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RE: The New Communication (was Formality going Bye, Bye): From: Phillip Gochenour

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