Re: English for Asian readers

Subject: Re: English for Asian readers
From: Mike Beyries <beyries -at- CSISDN -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1993 15:57:59 PST

Having worked for a European-based international company with
responsibility for "world-wide English documentation", I found
that many would-be readers [or maybe it was just our marketing
people speaking *for* the would-be readers] would like to read
technical documentation in English even if that is not their
native language. (This does not apply in France, I understand!).

It is easy to see how this wish might translate into a "brilliant"
money-saving idea: let's write 'universal' English-language
documentation. If those crazy Americans won't bother to (correctly)
learn our language (so the thinking might go), we'll use our
superior intellect and educations to get along in theirs.

Therefore, simple and straightforward English documentation --
that does not actually insult the foreign reader -- may be preferred.

Whether this is reasonable or not is, I think, an open question.
But the reality is that some tech writers are asked to produce this
kind of thing.

Reminds me of the travails I observed back in the olden days of '81,
when a colleague at Sperry Univac (there's a name from the past!)
was saddled with writing a disk maintenance manual using CETE =
Customer Engineering Technical English. This was a set of rules
and limited vocabulary (~2000 words, I think) for producing
documentation that was suitable for ESL (English as a Second
Language) types. I recall that this was quite a struggle; the
safety net was that he could add a glossary for necessary terms
that weren't in the vocabulary. [Ah, but I ramble ...]

Mike Beyries _____________________________
(beyries -at- csisdn -dot- com) | |
Technical Writer & Doer of Other Foul Deeds | Writing is easy: all you |
Located at Connective Strategies, Inc. | have to do is cross out |
465B Fairchild Dr. #207 | the wrong words. |
Mountain View, CA U.S.A. 94043 | |
Phone: 415-903-8382 ISDN | -- Mark Twain |
415-961-6691 FAX |_____________________________|

The opinions expressed are _not_ those of my employer!

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