Re: Using Contractions in Software Manuals

Subject: Re: Using Contractions in Software Manuals
From: Howard Peirce <howard -dot- peirce -at- SDRC -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 13:16:39 -0400

jgilger_it -at- NV -dot- DOE -dot- GOV wrote:

> Contractions cause problems with internationalization and translations.

Not so. We provide localized documents in about 8 languages, included Chinese,
Japanese, and Korean. Contractions are used consistently throughout. Extensive
research and contact with our translators went into this decision, and without
exception the translators for both Western and Asian languages prefer to see
contractions. They seemed a bit insulted that we thought they might have
trouble with it.

I'm no linguist, but some Western languages are inconcievable without
contractions (imagine replacing every "zum" in a German text with "zu dem").
English uses contractions like any other Western language, yet
English-speaking people still cling to an artificial standard for writing. Fie
on't, I say.

IMNSHO, the prohibition of contractions is just another example of phoney,
19th-century latinate prescriptivism. If I had my way, they'd be considered
part and parcel of speaking and writing English.


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