Translating RE: Culture, or What it means to be a Technical Writer

Subject: Translating RE: Culture, or What it means to be a Technical Writer
From: Hope Cascio <hope -dot- d -dot- cascio -at- US -dot- ARTHURANDERSEN -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 8 May 1998 12:59:25 -0400

I don't think we're assigning values to different cultural "languages,"
just acknowledging their differences. Part of communication is what
information we choose to disclose, and what we don't, and why. It is not
that a subject matter expert does not communicate well... there are SMEs
who communicate well (or well enough, or poorly) in their own "languages,"
but that does not make their writing more readable to users from another
culture, just as well written French is no more understandable to me than
poorly written French.

Hope Cascio

---original post---

Mike Huber wrote:
My objection to the "translation" metaphor is that it's insulting to our
subject matter experts.

Most of the software developers that I know are able to communicate in
human languages. Some of them are, in fact, fine writers. I've received
notes that expressed technical information in the form of metaphorical
stories (sorry - I lost them when we changed email systems) that were
just stunning. The author is a better writer than I am. I'm not
translating his work so normal people can understand it, it's quite
comprehensible as it is. But it answers the questions that developers
ask, not the questions that users ask.
For the most part, the developers I work with are personable,
interesting people who can, and do, communicate with others on a human
level. They are not well described by the geek stereotypes. They need no
translators.
---
Office:mike -dot- huber -at- software -dot- rockwell -dot- com
Home:nax -at- execpc -dot- com




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