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Subject:RE: US vs. UK pronoun/voice usage? From:"Brierley, Sean" <Sean -at- Quodata -dot- Com> To:TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Tue, 9 Nov 1999 07:40:07 -0500
I have written documents for the US and UK markets and "translated" between
the two languages. UK tech writing uses the same conventions as US tech
writing: second person active voice. Use of third-person passive is just the
writing style of the SME, who is not an author but who is probably writing
the way they were taught in university (as someone else pointed out). Use of
the word "one," which I often see in French writing, is really akin to a
nervous tick in UK tech writing (like the Canadians who must try not to
write "eh" at the end of every sentence, y'all (or is that youse guys?)
One big difference you will see between UK and US tech writing is the US
tendency to be PC (politically correct), as I illustrated above when I
changed number: "they were taught" would be written "he was taught."
Be aware that, just like in the US, the SMEs in the UK consider themselves
"writers," in that they have been writing in their native tongue all their
lives. Thus, they probably feel some ownership of what they wrote and have
deep feelings about the correctness of their style. As I said, that is the
same on both sides of the pond.
sean -at- quodata -dot- com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Janet_Swisher -at- trilogy -dot- com [SMTP:Janet_Swisher -at- trilogy -dot- com]
> I've recently been reading a large quantity of source material from an SME
> who happens to be British. (My company is located in Austin, Texas, USA.)
> One thing I've noticed in his text is that he routinely uses the pronoun
> "one", combined with passive voice, as in the following example:
> For each view one wants to appear as a child item, the view must be
> added to the collection.
> I've always been told, and intuitively agreed, that writing is clearer and
> more understandable when you use active voice, the second person, and
> imperative. Thus, I would rewrite this sentence as something like: