Re: Japanese and English

Subject: Re: Japanese and English
From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 9 Aug 1997 11:50:41 -0700

Stephen A. Carter wrote:
> Ed Klopfenstein hit the nail on the head when he wrote:
> >Let's pull away from the "Japan is different" mentality, folks.
> >
> >What's really rude is treating Japanese documentation customers as cultural
> >anomalies. Listen and meet their needs like you would with any other
> >customer.
> Bravo! This is *exactly* the way it is.

And I enthusiastically second Stephen's feelings. English may well be
the de facto business language around the world, but it is STILL not the
language of choice for most of the people in this world. As computers
become more and more the vehicles for carrying communications to all
corners of the globe, and therefore as we as technical communicators
have to pay more and more attention to how concepts will be translated
into other languages, it's important for us to remember that attitudes
of racial or cultural superiority tend to generate a backlash over
time. Japanese users of systems have pretty much the same needs and
concerns as anyone else - and they deserve the same respect and
consideration as any other customer.

According to some market information I read recently in some business
magazine (I forget which one), professional market forecasters are now
predicting that the growth of the computer markeplace in
non-English-speaking countries over the next 20 years will be roughly
triple the growth rate in English-speaking countries. That implies that
a lot of our manuals and procedures and Help files and other things we
write will probably have to be translated into other languages - and
that the translation process will have to be sensitive to the
destination culture's idioms and values.

Just because some other culture does things differently doesn't mean
they're innately inferior.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

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