Re: English for Asian readers

Subject: Re: English for Asian readers
From: Paul Goble <paulg -at- COL -dot- HP -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 1993 23:39:22 GMT

Margaret Gerard (margaret -at- toshiba -dot- tic -dot- oz -dot- au) wrote:
: 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
: references?

I, too, have been trying to research the rhetorical aspects (versus the
well-documented grammatical and lexical aspects) of writing English for
Asian readers. Very little has been published in this area.

My Asian sources tell me that I shouldn't worry about my mood and tone
because my readers are accustomed to English technical prose. They may
be a bit disturbed by my American style, but they'd be *confused* if it
deviated from the norm. Your readers may be different (mine tend to be
well-educated electronics engineers).

If you care what readers from a certain culture think about your writing
style, forget the expert advice. Just go out and find some readers from
the target culture and ask what they think! Unfortunately, it can be
hard to get people from certain cultures to give *open* and *frank*
criticism--but it's worth trying, anyway.

--------======= * =======--------
Paul Goble
Hewlett-Packard Colorado Springs Division
Learning Products Engineering
paulg -at- col -dot- hp -dot- com

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