Dropping the you? The Asian response to imperative voice. (was: Re: you or he/it)

Subject: Dropping the you? The Asian response to imperative voice. (was: Re: you or he/it)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 11:13:09 -0400

Sean Hower noted: <<no one has suggested that you could simply adopt a style that uses neither you nor the user. That would eliminate this entire discussion. For example: You can use the color picker to set the background of your pages. can be rewritten as Use the color picker to set the background color for pages.>>

This was suggested, and it's a good solution for a Western audience. But although it's good advice for "us", it's not necessarily good advice for an Asian audience. Japanese readers in particular (like the new project manager in the original message thread) reportedly find this imperative approach abrupt and rude, and the degree of discomfort may be sufficiently high to make it a bad choice for an Asian audience reading in English. If you've got to write one version for all audiences, then you need to choose a different approach.

Which leads me to a followup question: My Chinese colleagues have always told me that they simply accept Western style as a fact of life and deal with it. Yet none of them responded to my question with an enthusiastic "yes, and your Western style is so much more efficient and enjoyable than our circular/inductive/whatever Asian style of rhetoric that we wish everyone wrote that way in [Chinese, Japanese, etc.]". So perhaps they're just being polite.

Any data points from our Asian techwhirlers, or from Western techwhirlers who routinely work with Asian colleagues? I'd be happy to update the EPROMs that store my cross-cultural software. <g> Private replies welcome too, though I think enough others would benefit that public replies would be preferred.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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re: you or he/it: From: Sean Hower

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