I've read all the replies to your question that have been posted so far. I
don't agree about offending your audience. Our docs are translated to seven
languges and distributed all over the world, including the UK. We write in
standard American English and internationalize our docs to make localization
easier. We write short instructions and use imperatives on a regular basis.
We include an email address in the manuals for customer feedback and we do
get comments. I have never seen a comment from anyone in any country that
mentioned language or stated that they were offended by the writing style.
To answer your question, I suspect that not all UK writers write the way
those who wrote the manual you have. Sorry you are having problems.
BTW, we have similar problems rewriting docs that come from Japan. The
engineers write in Japanese and the in-house ESL translators there send us
"English" versions. It is often difficult to understand what they are
Closing thought -- It's well known that Asians are often ultra-polite when
they speak so that they do not to offend anyone. Our coworkers in Japan,
for example, rarely use the word No. They say, "we will consider it," but
never seem to finish considering. :-) I'm wondering if your UK writers are
trying not to offend your Asian audience. In any event, you are doing it
right by deleting the extra verbiage. Go girl!
[mailto:framers-bounces at lists.frameusers.com]On Behalf Of Flato, Gillian
Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2009 8:10 PM
To: framers at frameusers.com
Subject: Why do British Tech Writers pontificate
We are going through the grueling task of editing some manuals written
by British Tech writers. It's quite painful. Why, oh why, do British
Tech Writers pontificate so much? Do they know the definition of the
word concise? Do they just like to hear themselves talk?
Additionally, are they paid by the freakin' word? I have never seen such
excessive use of as many words as possible. It's ridiculous. Didn't
anyone ever tell them that when you translate a manual you actually do
pay by the word so being concise is actually important!
Part of that old British politeness comes through. They are so scared of
offending anyone that they are afraid of giving an imperative in a
manual. It's full of, "if you wish" "if you would like" "if you would be
so kind as to" "if it's not to much trouble than" Give me a freakin'
break. Tell the User what to do to accomplish the task and stop
pontificating. It's not about you!
<Thanks for letting me rant. I am tired of this manual. It's due
tomorrow and I am behind schedule.>
Technical Writer (Software)
1550 Buckeye Dr.
Milpitas, CA. 95035
* gflato at nanometrics.com <mailto:gflato at nanometrics.com>
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