RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken

Subject: RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken
From: "Hemstreet, Deborah" <DHemstreet -at- kaydon -dot- com>
To: "Keith Hood" <klhra -at- yahoo -dot- com>, "Bonnie Granat" <bgranat -at- granatedit -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2008 13:10:41 -0400

Hi Keith,

Having done medical writing for many years, your statement "Technical
writing is not meant to be used in an adversarial setting" is not
exactly true.

Also, from what I understand, "Everyone involved wants it to be
definitive and final. It is supposed to provide certainty about a
subject." is EQUALLY true of legal writing. Perhaps even more so. Court
cases have been won because a comma arguably changed the meaning of a
clause. Every word (of, for, the, a) take on meaning of consequence.

Much of the writing that I had to put in user manuals had to take into
consideration the potential for an adversarial setting. In fact, I
often had to insert statements from our lawyers or regulatory people -
all for one small purpose: If anyone tried to take us to court for
something - they would not win because we had adequately warned them.

Sometimes the lawyers and regulatory people accepted my suggestions for
clearer text, sometimes not... But we actually did have a court case
against us, that was not one, because I was able to show that we had
indeed documented the disputed issue in SEVERAL places, in "legalese",
"regulatorese", and "userese"...

Obviously I wasn't working on a document with the line numbering and
often obtuse wording... But the argument COULD be made that legal
documents require a specific technical language, as do engineering
documents.

I agree - rarely do we see a technical writer handling legal writing per
se... But that does not mean they cannot, will not, or that if they did,
it is not, technical writing/communication....

Just my thoughts on this...

Deborah

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+dhemstreet=kaydon -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+dhemstreet=kaydon -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
Behalf Of Keith Hood
Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 12:56 PM
To: Bonnie Granat; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken

With tongue somewhat in cheek, I think I have to
finally weigh in on this EXTREMELY long and convoluted
thread, and disagree with Bonnie. I can't see legal
and technical writing as the same type of thing. The
writer's actions and workflow model and tools may be
essentially the same. However, the end results are way
different because the purposes of technical and legal
writing are often diametrically opposed.

Technical writing is not meant to be used in an
adversarial setting. Everyone involved wants it to be
definitive and final. It is supposed to provide
certainty about a subject.

Legal writing is often used in an adversarial setting.
In such cases its purpose is not to provide definitive
information, but to refute and to present an opposing
viewpoint. It doesn't try to provide the reader with a
better understanding of the subject so much as it
tries to bias the reader's perceptions of the subject.
It is supposed to introduce ambiguities and
uncertainty in the mind of the reader.

In short, technical writing is meant to nail down the
lid down on a subject once and for all. Legal writing
is very often used to open a channel so that someone
can wiggle out from under a nailed-on lid. :-)

Writing contracts may be closer to technical writing,
because contracts are supposed to be definitive and
accurate. But writing in torts and criminal cases is
something else entirely.



--- Bonnie Granat <bgranat -at- granatedit -dot- com> wrote:

> Yes, a legal writer is a technical writer, and you
> do not have to be a
> lawyer to be a legal writer.
>
> A technical writer is performing one or more of the
> subsets of technical
> writing.
>
>
> Bonnie Granat
> http://www.GranatEdit.com
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Lauren [mailto:lauren -at- writeco -dot- net]
> Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 2:45 AM
> To: 'Bonnie Granat'; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is
> broken
>
> > From: Bonnie Granat
>
> > In the classical view, technical writing is the
> general area and all
> > other divisions are under it:
> >
> > Technical Writing:
> >
> > - Manufacturing procedure writing
> > - Business procedure writing
> > - Financial writing
> > - Government writing
> > - Legislative writing
> > - Software documentation
> > - Marketing writing
> > - Business writing
> > - Legal writing
> > - Scientific writing
> > - Civil engineering documentation
> > - Medical writing
> > - Proposal writing
> > - Grant writing
> > - Others
> >
> > In the classical view, all of the above are known
> as technical
> > writing.
>
> If this were true, then it should follow that a
> technical writer could be a
> legal writer. We know this is not true because
> lawyers are legal writers.
> So if legal writing and all the other types of
> writing that you mention are
> under the umbrella of technical writing are
> performed by people qualified to
> perform those types of writing, then what type of
> writing is a technical
> writer performing? Generic technical writing?
>
> Lauren
>
>
>
>
>
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