Wednesday, January 7, 2009

the englishes

This short post -- particularly the comments about translation -- had me recalling an article I read a few years ago (see).

We (technical communicators) have struggled with translation and localization issues for decades. What complicates the practice for many of us is the need to be aware of, or versed in, language/linguistics theory. It's not enough to fall back on our extensive skills in audience, context, and environment analysis. Too many technical communicators come to translation and localization projects with a presumption of cultural and linguistic homogeneity. We lack (generally speaking, of course) a proper exposure to the social and cultural aspects of language.

The spiraling dialectic leads us to the argument about the tech commer's tool kit -- about how much is too much. What does the fluent technical communicator need to know? Is it course work or practical experience? Or do we simply engage the experts when needed and resign ourselves to accept that we don't (nor do we have to) know everything there is to know about creating an effective and meaningful technical document.

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