Re: Dumbing it down

Subject: Re: Dumbing it down
From: "Green, Stan" <Stan -dot- Green -at- AAI-US -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 9 Dec 1998 08:24:24 -0600

When I review a new applicants sample I apply a simple rule...does the
applicant's writing effectively communicate to the intended audience... not
oh my a dangling participle.



-----Original Message-----
From: Katav [mailto:katav -at- YAHOO -dot- COM]
Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 1998 7:53 AM
To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
Subject: Re: Dumbing it down


Years back an IBMer named JERRY COHEN gave a talk at an STC annual
that looked at grammar checkers. Mr. Cohen read off a
Pentagon-approved paragraph and asked all who understood it to raise a
hand (preferably their own). In a double banquet room packed with TWs
(Jerry recruited people, but he consistently was the most popular
speaker, so ...). I don't think one hand went into the air. BUT, the
paragraph did meet Pentagon 'readability' standards.

He then read a 109-word sentence describing a bull fight scene. It
miserably flunked Uncle Sugar's 'readability' test. Then Mr. Cohen
asked the assembled writers to raise a hand if they understood what
the 'hack writer' was trying to convey. Hands sprung up like
dandilions in spring.

I can't tell you any thing about that long-ago conference beyond the
Jerry Cohen show (he also gave out a buzz-word wheel which I still
have - somewhere).

Bottom line: Grammar checkers are nice and they help keep me honest
(avoid those passives!), but in the end, writers must write for the
target audience. In the mil-spec world, that audience is wrongly
defined by 'grade level.' (There are high school dropout swabs with
crows who know more about engineering as it applies to a /specific
equipment/ than the boat's post-grad degreed boss.) AMY G. is 100% on
the mark when she works to write to the audience's comprehension
level, and the Powers-That-Be ought'a be made aware that writing
'down' can be worse for bu$ine$$ than 'writing up.'

swabs=sailors
crows=petty (non-commissioned)officers



---"Amy G. Peacock" <apeacock -at- WOLFENET -dot- COM> wrote:
>
> Hi all,
>
> It's more about having to dumb down a document to a certain grade
> level of reading.

[snipped]

I think I know my
> audience pretty well and I always strive to produce something helpful
> to it.
>
>
> Amy Peacock
> techwriter & jewelrymaker
> Snohomish, Washington
> apeacock -at- wolfenet -dot- com


==
Katav ( katav -at- yahoo -dot- com )
''Despise not any person and do not deem anything unworthy
of consideration, for there is no person without his hour,
and no thing without its place'' {Ben Azzai [Avot 4:2]}

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