Re: fwd: you or he/it

Subject: Re: fwd: you or he/it
From: "David Loveless" <daveloveless -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2006 08:58:22 -0600

I haven't read the other responses, so forgive any repetition.

In my work, we translate our materials into 17 languages, 4 of them
being Asiatics (Japanese, Korean, 2 dialects of Chinese). In
particular, I spend a lot of time working with Japanese. I have
learned that the Japanese writing style is extremely different from
our own. Yeah, I know. That's pretty obvious now, but at first, I
couldn't understand why.

This is why:

1. The Japanese are formal. Informal writing is seen as impolite. For
example, whenever I speak with any of my Japanese counterparts,
whether by e-mail or phone or in person, we always take the time to
check up on life for a few moments. This is standard for them. To
plunge straight into a question or problem or explanation, as we do
here, is rude.

2. The Japanese also prefer to gather information in reverse order
from us. Generally speaking, Americans and Europeans like specifics,
we like logical order, we like things laid out in clear 1, 2, 3
formats. The Japanese do not. They take almost a perfect opposite
approach. Yes, that flies in the face of everything *you* have
learned, but it does not fly in the face of everything *they* have

In some ways, you and your manager are facing the standard "if it's
different, it's wrong" syndrome. If your audience is Japanese, you
really should follow your manager's suggestions. Your writing will
come out better on *their* end, even if it is awful to your ears. But
if your audience is American or European, you have a valid argument
and your informal style will be much easier to follow, especially for
Germanics (widely regarded as the most informal of all speakers).

For assistance, there was an excellent article written for the STC
Intercom journal on this very issue. I'm sorry, but I don't rememeber
what issue except that it was sometime between 2004 and 2002. If you
have access to the archives, a quick search should pull out several
relevant articles.

Good luck,


WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word features support for every major Help
format plus PDF, HTML and more. Flexible, precise, and efficient content delivery. Try it today!.
Doc-To-Help includes a one-click RoboHelp project converter. It's that easy. Watch the demo at

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- infoinfocus -dot- com -dot-
To unsubscribe send a blank email to techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to lisa -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

RE: fwd: you or he/it: From: H Arnold
RE: fwd: you or he/it: From: Dan Goldstein

Previous by Author: Re: gaining control of a dysfunctional environment?
Next by Author: Type of Resume
Previous by Thread: RE: You or he/it? (Take II)
Next by Thread: Re: fwd: you or he/it

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

Sponsored Ads