RE: you or he/it

Subject: RE: you or he/it
From: "Schutz, Me" <me -dot- schutz -at- thermo -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 11:07:39 -0500

On Wed, 21 Jun 2006 08:01:18 -0500 The Beleaguered Tech Writer writes in
...We now have a new Japanese Project Leader who wishes me to create a
completely new, FORMAL format, eliminating you, sprinkling it/he
liberally, and generally, creating a document that (in my opinion only)
would be very difficult to read through, especially for our Target
Audience. (Administrative IT personnel)...

There are several things may be coming into play here...

There is a school of thought in some Japanese businesses that if the
documentation is presented in a form that is too clear, concise, and
easy to understand, the end user can expect little or no support from
the manufacturer. Presenting information in a more round about manner
lets the customer know that the manufacturer will be there to hand-hold
every step of the way.

Respected persons are still referred to as masculine in many Japanese
(and other Asian) settings. When I start getting messages from reps at
our Asian subsidiaries addressed to Mr. Schutz, I know my expertise has
been recognized and my opinions will be valued by the sender.
Generally, it takes years of interaction before Asian reps are willing
to address me (or anyone else) informally, using just a first name,
without much discomfort...

Much of the academic/scientific community still believes that scholarly
writing is never direct, concise, or clearly written. Unfortunately,
many, many professors insist that papers be written passively and
reject, without consideration of content, any active voice or hit of

Given those three influences, you may find yourself in an uphill, never
ending battle with this manager unless you can get support from higher
management for simple, direct, clearly and concisely written text. I
work regularly with a Chinese product manager and continually face the
same types of problems you describe. For the most part, clear and
concise wins...But every now and then, documentation goes out the door
in the product managers preferred convoluted text because it's "not
incorrect" and there is no more time for battling...the project has to
end some time.

Perhaps not as encouraging as you would like, but hopefully you will
understand a bit better where the rigid stance comes from...

Mary Ellen Schutz
Sr. Technical Writer
Translation Coordinator
Thermo Electron Corporation
5225-4 Verona Road
Madison, WI 53711
Telephone: (608)276-6100 ext. 2339
Fax: (608)276-6328
me -dot- schutz -at- thermo -dot- com

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