Re: Manuals Written in Non-American English (Long - in two versions)

Subject: Re: Manuals Written in Non-American English (Long - in two versions)
From: Sabahat Ashraf <sabahat -at- OPENIX -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 1996 12:20:10 -0400

I do not find short sentences with simple words condescending. If I
someone is explaining how to perform a task that I really care about, I
would welcome and want only short sentences; simple words without any
complications. I *do* find saying that one should use *only* those for
all non-American audiences condescending. And it *can* be overdone. I
was cautioning against that. I would suggest "The Ugly American" as
necessary reading for *any* American writing/working in a foreign
environment. But as a gentle warning on what not to do; not as a
you-will-never-be-able-to-make-it-Yankee statement; I happen to think
that the Americans are one group that does care about how they are
perceived -- a lot of them, anyway. :-)

And even for American audiences; leave condescension to the "For the
Dummies" series, don't use it in a manual. [Unless you write one of the
"For the Dummies" books, that is; and I know some members of this list
do.] Do I have anyone disagreeing?

For the record, everybody, only the first part of my post was ticked off
-- and was meant to show exactly how oversimplying might tick people
off. I am keeping this discussion alive because I care about it and
think I might have something to say that would help y'all. I am not
getting angry at all. I am not flaming. I am not even shouting as you
will note.

One very basic difference between Americans and Asians is that we are
not used to having a person be very nice and smile and talk very
animatedly one day and be very curt in the hallway the next. In America,
it is good -- minding one's own business and all that -- in Asia, it is
rude. Also, I remember one Japanese technical writer saying that you can
get away with/have to have a lot of what an American would think vague
and unclear wording in a manual for the Japanese market.


sabahat -at- openix -dot- com - ashrafs -at- rpi -dot- edu - (201) 301 4232
"If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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