Something a little more useful than: RE: Pet Peeves

Subject: Something a little more useful than: RE: Pet Peeves
From: "Steve Cavanaugh" <scavanaugh -at- nat-seattle -dot- com>
To: "Jonathan West" <jwest -at- mvps -dot- org>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 09:30:19 -0800

I'm sure everyone here is aware of ASD-STE100, the Aerospace and Defense
Industries Association of Europe (ASD) standard for Simplified Technical
English or STE. If I am mistaken, and you are not familiar with it, you
should investigate it and where possible, use it. Please see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simplified_English.

HTH


Steve Cavanaugh
Sr. Technical Writer
NAT Seattle Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+scavanaugh=nat-seattle -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+scavanaugh=nat-seattle -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com]
On Behalf Of Jonathan West
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 8:19 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: Pet Peeves


>
> Not only
> should we not use colloquialisms, we should be very careful about our
> metaphors as well. During my tenure with PriceWaterhouse in the '90s,
> I reviewed a white paper that was being delivered to our colleagues in

> India. It was replete with sports metaphors such as "getting on base,"
> "hitting a home run," and "curveball." I pointed out to the writer
> that the Indians would have no concept of the meaning of these phrases

> as cricket and soccer were their sports of choice, rather than
baseball.
>

I attended international standards committee meetings defining the new
mobile phone systems some years ago. I learned to be careful about such
things, given that my words (both written and spoken) were addressed to
delegates from all over the world, many of whom didn't have English as
their first language. I developed a standard set of rules for what I
said and wrote, including the following:

- Use short sentences.
- Use present tense wherever possible.
- Avoid long words except for defined technical terms.
- Avoid colloquialisms.
- Avoid literary references.
- Avoid sporting metaphors.
- Avoid topical references to news items in British newspapers.
- Avoid humor. (Chatting in the coffee break is a different matter to
formal
communication.)
- Where terms have already been defined in the standards, use the exact
wording of the defined term.
- Speak clearly and slowly, so that people whose first language isn't
English can follow.

Although the meetings were always conducted in English, I was surprised
how few of the other delegates from English-speaking countries thought
to do the same. They often couldn't get their points agreed simply
because too many of their international colleagues couldn't actually
understand what they were saying.

Regards
Jonathan West

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