Re: Friday Light: Don't Let Engineers Write Docs

Subject: Re: Friday Light: Don't Let Engineers Write Docs
From: Ken Poshedly <poshedly -at- bellsouth -dot- net>
To: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>, Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2016 20:39:23 +0000 (UTC)

Jeez-oh-man!! I've been senior tech writer at a China-based heavy construction equipment company for just over seven years (I'm in Atlanta and I can only _wish_ I could work for Caterpillar). And the examples given in the previous e-mail were "clean" compared to the so-called source material I must use.
The problem is -- at least with my company -- is that corporate espionage is rampant in China, thus, there are all kinds of "walls" erected to prevent information from accurately getting even from one department to another. In my company's case, I recall being told that the design engineers in China compose the entire operator manual for this stuff (300-ton crawler cranes, etc.) in Chinese script; it is then sent to the "translation group" of individuals also in China who speak only a fair amount of English and have little product knowledge. So it is not unusual to see in my source material "apply butter to the threads before reassembly".
Why? Because the original Chinese script stated (somehow) to apply grease or lubricant. And one of the synonyms for that is "butter". Right out of the American English-language dictionaries I've seen during my visits to their offices.
They really mean well, but the corporate culture is more concerned with appearances and less so on true accuracy, so doing whatever needs to be done to get true context-perfect English-language books just ain't gonna happen. And I speak from experience with my global company.

By the way, the humongous Georgia Kia auto plant is about 10 or 20 miles down I-85 from my office and I've heard stories about how some of the employees are treated there. For instance, from a newspaper account here about two years ago, a former woman HR person was told by the upper management (directly from South Korea) not to hire any more Afro-American workers. When she explained U.S. anti-discrimination laws, they wanted to fire her. I doubt she's still there.

Perhaps things have gotten better there, but I'll never know . . .

On Friday, April 15, 2016 4:10 PM, Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com> wrote:



I think when you see things like this happen today on anything more
complex than a pocket mp3 player, it's probably an indication that
something in the native language was autotranslated and not edited.

Gene Kim-Eng


On 4/15/2016 1:00 PM, Peter Neilson wrote:
>
>
> These things have to be genuine. Native speakers of American English
> as a first language are totally incapable of inventing them.

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References:
Friday Light: Don't Let Engineers Write Docs: From: Brian.Henderson
Re: Friday Light: Don't Let Engineers Write Docs: From: Peter Neilson
Re: Friday Light: Don't Let Engineers Write Docs: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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