Re: Docs for Users who have English as a Second Language

Subject: Re: Docs for Users who have English as a Second Language
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2020 18:47:30 -0400

(1) Avoid slang. Keep sentence structure simple. For example, it's probably all right to say, "If you want result X, do procedure Y. Some precautions are (blah, blah, blah, blah)." The reversed construction, "Do procedure Y, involving (blah, blah, blah, blah) if you want result X," is probably too convoluted.

(2) If you like to use analogies from US sports, baseball is okay for Japan, but American football probably is not.

(3) Try as hard as you can to get a reviewer or three from your target audience.

(4) Be ready to resolve those reviewers' suggestions that you should use the passive voice. Americans tend to avoid the passive in technical writing, which can lead to a feeling that Americans are too brash. Some ESL learners are taught that the passive is the preferred construction, even though it sometimes creates ambiguity.

These suggestions may by now be old fashioned. I recently came across a well-done mathematical explanation written by a high-school student in China. It was completely clear and straightforward, and in American English.

Enjoy "Chinglish" while you still can; it is fast fading. No longer do we find the amusing message once written on the box with an alarm clock, "Thank you to perfection of alarming mechanism you never awake when you sleeping."

On Sat, 25 Apr 2020 17:30:33 -0400, vinnie tieto <vtieto -at- sbcglobal -dot- net> wrote:

Do you have any tips for maximizing the effectiveness of docs that are in English but must be easily digested by users in other countries like Japan or China whose English may be lacking somewhat? I believe the audience would be primarily engineers, but it may also consist of some less technical users. The content will probably be highly technical with lots of acronyms and jargon.
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