Subject: RE: ESL
From: salatas <salatas -at- micron -dot- com>
To: "'R.Hume'" <rhume -at- sunshine -dot- net>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 08:11:43 -0600

R.Hume wrote:

I am writing an installation manual for technicans whose second language is
English. <snip>
I am wondering about using "ing" in headings.
Also, how to keep the writing simple, not simplistic. <snip>

S. Latas responds:

Our company is facing the same challenges.

Adding an "ing" to a verb can turn it into a noun (gerund) or an adjective
(participle). Gerunds and participles create difficulty for translators and
non-native English speakers, as they are ambiguous parts of speech. You need
to make it very clear whether you are using a word as a verb, noun, or
adjective, so depending on the English proficiency of your readers, you may
want to avoid "ing" in headings.

Here are some references we found useful:


International Technical Communication: How to Export Information About High
Technology. Nancy L. Hoft. This is an outstanding resource for
understanding globalization. It begins with information for upper level
management, but it also includes sections about writing for translation and
non-native English speakers. This book works particularly well because it is
written by a technical writer for technical writers. (Especially notice
chapters 9 and 10.)

English for Science and Technology: A Handbook for Nonnative Speakers.
Thomas N. Huckin and Leslie A. Olsen. This book is helpful for
understanding the English language from the point of view of a foreign
reader. If we can understand some of these learning strategies, we can teach
and write "globalized English" more effectively.

Internet articles:

Laying Hold of the Challenges: Cultural Obstacles for Technical Writing
( This article by Jerold A.
DeHart explains some of the problems associated with communication across

A Curriculum for the Research and Practice of International Technical
Communication ( Nancy Hoft talks a
little bit about some of the rules she includes in her books and seminars.

Going global: Your audience may understand English, but do you understand
your audience?
Dave Zielinski outlines some basic rules for effectively presenting to
foreign audiences. Most of these tips are for spoken presentations, but can
apply to writing as well.

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