Re: Standard English vs "industry standard"

Subject: Re: Standard English vs "industry standard"
From: "Brierley, Sean" <Brierley -at- QUODATA -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 1999 15:12:32 -0500


This is the eternal tech writer quest for respect, isn't it <vbg>. The
problem is, these non-writing types are educated. They've been doing it
since they were four and think they are both good at it and professional at
it. Consider sucking them into a discussion such as the following:

[TW] "You've been writing a long time, haven't you?"
[Non-writer] "Yup."
[TW] "You're pretty good at it, aren't you?"
[Non-writer] "Yup."
[TW] "Tom Clancy and Mark Twain were pretty good, too. Weren't they?"
[Non-writer] "Yup."
[TW] "So, how come you've never written a book or had one published?"
[Non-writer] " . . . I'm not that good . . . they're better than I . . . I
don't have the time."
[TW] "Hmmmm. So, you don't have the skill or time do that, eh?" (Eh is
optional for our Canadian readers.)"You know, I have written books. I have
the time. Not only that, it is my profession."
[Non-writer] "Hmmmmm."
[TW] "There are very many people in this country. Many of them can write.
Not many of them can write at a level required to make books. There are
different tiers of skill. I practice that skill and am at the top. You
shouldn't be embarrassed if I know more about it than you. Now, go away and
build a bridge, or something . . . <vbg>."

sean -at- quodata -dot- com

P.S. Surely your decibel example was a poor one. Do you have any really good
examples to share?

P.P.S. What's an SME? Is it similar to one of those little blue, eighties
cartoon characters? Issit a captains mate on a pirate ship?

>>>-----Original Message-----
>>>From: Sarah Stegall [mailto:stegall -at- TERAYON -dot- COM]
>>>Sent: Friday, March 26, 1999 2:49 PM
>>>To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
>>>Subject: Standard English vs "industry standard"

>>>I edit a document and return it to the SME in
>>>charge of it. My edits include such things as
>>>proper sentence structure and syntax, spelling out
>>>acronyms on first use, standardizing units of
>>>measurement (dB for decibel rather than Db). He
>>>returns it to me with some of the corrections
>>>returned to their former status, and with new
>>>non-standard entries, claiming that a) this is the
>>>way it's done "in the industry" or b) "everyone
>>>reading this will know it's done this way". My
>>>claim that my edits are standard "industry" use of
>>>English goes unheard. Worse, in emerging
>>>technologies there are often no "industry
>>>standards" to consult, such as IEEE's manual of
>>>style; it comes down to a shouting match.
>>>For the most part, the edits in question would not
>>>be disputed by any competent writer; it's a matter
>>>of someone covering his ignorance of proper usage
>>>by claiming spurious "industry" examples. I have
>>>had other technical manuals with egregious errors
>>>used as justification for bizarre punctuation and
>>>tortured syntax. Any thoughts? What's a nice,
>>>non-controversial way of dealing with this issue?
>>>Sarah Stegall || Senior Technical

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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