Presentation on theme: "The Technical Approach Diction and Idiom. Introduction Word choice comprises most of the work of drafting a technical document The target range for word."— Presentation transcript:
The Technical Approach Diction and Idiom
Introduction Word choice comprises most of the work of drafting a technical document The target range for word choice varies with audience and purpose Four variables to observe are language level, diplomacy, precision, and concision
A. Language Level and Diplomacy Language level Diplomacy
Idiomatic Expressions Cannot be translated literally into other languages Have one or more vague meanings that are nonetheless distinct from those of the simple words of which they are made –put on, to have pull Are too basic a level of language in most technical documents
IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS OBSCURE VOCABULARY
Obscure Vocabulary Is usually limited in use to a narrow domain of study or research Accounts for a large part of English vocabulary even though most English speakers are not familiar with it –putative, contumely Should only be included (with definitions) if suited to the subject matter and readership
Incorrect Nuance Beyond their literal definitions, English words carry a nuance or connotation Words or expressions with a correct definition but incorrect nuance may be undiplomatic –Imagine describing an aggressive salesperson to his client For good nuances, analyze the audience and purpose of your document or presentation
Pretentious Vocabulary Some English words in ordinary use have almost exactly the same meaning as simpler words Inexperienced writers sometimes use these words to convey professionalism –utilize instead of use –as per your request instead of as you asked If you can, use the simpler terms in technical communication
Undefined Technical Terms and Abbreviations For exactitude, many technical documents require rather specialized words and abbreviations –fibula = calf bone, URL = universal (or uniform) resource locator Nevertheless, readers unfamiliar with these terms may need to understand such writing Include informal definitions (parenthetical, like this one), glossaries, or lists of abbreviations in these cases
Common Abbreviations and Contractions Avoid Latin abbreviations - i.e. (that is), e.g. (for example), etc., and & –Never use etc. or and so on; only use & in a corporate logo or in a quote Use contractions only in informal letters and memos (Im, shed, cant) –Its = it is; its (without apostrophe) = possessive of it Use any common abbreviation sparingly - I recorded MTV, CFL, and the FBI show from TV to a DVD on a PC in the LAN...
OBSCURE VOCABULARY IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS INCORRECT NUANCE PRETENTIOUS VOCABULARY UNDEFINED TECHNICAL TERMS UNEXPANDED TECHNICAL ABBREVIATIONS COMMON ACADEMIC ABBREVIATIONS CONTRACTIONS NON-ENGLISH WORDS AND PHRASES UNSTRUCTURED REDUNDANCY
Redundancy and Preciousness Limited repetition of information is necessary in most documents –Structural redundancy, for example in introductions Shorten sentences; retain the meaning –In 12-point font, never more than three lines; usually less than two lines Non-English expressions are considered too flowery in industry –a la mode = in fashion; de rigueur = mandatory Edit for concision and frankness
OBSCURE VOCABULARY IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS INCORRECT NUANCE PRETENTIOUS VOCABULARY UNDEFINED TECHNICAL TERMS UNEXPANDED TECHNICAL ABBREVIATIONS COMMON ACADEMIC ABBREVIATIONS CONTRACTIONS NON-ENGLISH WORDS AND PHRASES UNSTRUCTURED REDUNDANCY UNSUPPORTED SUPERLATIVES CLICHÉ AND SLANG
Superlatives, Cliché, and Slang Support superlatives and comparisons –Avoid very, best, and especially great to mean excellent - let quantitative measures speak for themselves Clichés say nothing in technical writing –Youre going to love this application! Never use slang in technical documents - it lacks seriousness...
Conclusion Several revisions and significant editing are required in any technical writing The guidelines of level of language, diplomacy, precision, and concision are reliable in this process The best choice of words in any document depends on its audience and purpose