TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: English for Asian readers From:Karen Kay <karenk -at- NETCOM -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 19 Nov 1993 17:41:32 PST
Margaret Gerard said:
> Recently I heard a passing comment that:
> "In some Asian countries, readers are offended by the
> use of the imperative mood and/or 'you' (for the user)
> in technical documentation."
> Does anyone know anything about this? Can anyone suggest any
I'm sorry, I can't provide references. All I can say is that in
Japanese the imperative is not generally used. There is a way to
say "it would be better if you X", or "let's X", or "please X",
and these are used instead of the imperative. "You" is not generally
used, but this is no surprise because Japanese often has an
It depends on the documentation, of course, but I should think
that the English versions of these sorts of circumlocutions
would often sound quite bad because they are not natural English.