Writing British English

Subject: Writing British English
From: "Walter L. Bazzini" <73300 -dot- 111 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 8 Nov 1996 07:13:46 EST

>> Dear Tech Writers

I am a writer in an international software company. We produce documetation in
about 15-17 different languages for our products. We recently added Bristish
English as a new language. We hired a new writer in our office over the
Atlantic specifically for this purpose. When I got a copy of the first manual
that this writer produced I tried very hard to find major differences in the
writing. The only real thing that I found were several spelling differences. I
also found that the writing style was not as clear and consise as I try to make
mine. . .

Joy Switzer <<

Funny you should mention that; I questioned whether or not it's proper to even
"adjust" the spelling of UK versus US English for different markets, but that's
another topic, in another forum. As for the text/style itself, despite the fact
that we both speak the same language, I often find myself scratching my head
when reading the manuals of British products, and going, "Say *what*?!" (Then
again, the same thing goes for manuals written by Americans, for Americans.)
What of reference to things like date fields? While Americans tend to express
them as 11/08/96, we can make sense out of 08-Nov-96. But 08.11.96? Hmmm. Is
that July 11th, a version number, or what?

Hands down, some of the "best" translations occur when totally different
languages are interpreted (I recently needed to refer to a [Japanese] Kubota
tractor manual, translated to English back when Kubota was making fresh inroads
to this country -- what a beauty), but there is some room for consideration when
translating UK to US "English".

--Walter Bazzini (US)

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