RE: you or he/it

Subject: RE: you or he/it
From: "Esthee Erasmus" <Esthee -at- k2workflow -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2006 15:53:42 +0200


I work for a South African company that has in the past few years gone
global. I was taught at University with the help of many research
articles and textbooks to stick to plain english rules especially when
writing technical documentation. To never use 'one' and always use
'you'. But since starting here I had to completely change my style of
writing. According to our Asian Director, the use of 'you' is HIGHLY
inappropriate when writing documentation, it is so severe that they see
it as an insult.

In our line of work we have such a lot of documentation to deliver that
there is no way we can rewrite every piece of documentation leaving our
offices, one that caters for most western countries and another for
countries who require a more formal text. We therefore had to measure
to whom what would be more offensive, formal language in documentation
sent to America would not be as offensive to the reader as casual
documentation sent to Japan for example. We therefore stick to more
formal writing.

The same goes for the type of English used. In SA we prefer using
British English as a standard, but the reception of such documentation
in the States are not very tolerated, so we use American English when
writing documentation. One should never under estimate the effect your
documentation can have in another culture. One would, for example,
never send a woman to an Arab country to conduct business, no matter how
good she is, the same is true about our documentation.

Hope that helps.

Esthee Erasmus
esthee_e -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot- uk

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