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English Writing for Global Communication John Scafidi Senior English Fellow Fellow Saint Petersburg John Scafidi Senior English Fellow Fellow Saint Petersburg.

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Presentation on theme: "English Writing for Global Communication John Scafidi Senior English Fellow Fellow Saint Petersburg John Scafidi Senior English Fellow Fellow Saint Petersburg."— Presentation transcript:

1 English Writing for Global Communication John Scafidi Senior English Fellow Fellow Saint Petersburg John Scafidi Senior English Fellow Fellow Saint Petersburg

2 Role of English in Global Communication There are 1.5 billion people in world using English  375 million people in the world whose native language is English.  375 million people who speak it as a second language.  750 million people who speak it as foreign language There are 1.5 billion people in world using English  375 million people in the world whose native language is English.  375 million people who speak it as a second language.  750 million people who speak it as foreign language

3 Role of English in Global Communication English remains the most widely spoken foreign language throughout Europe. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia English remains the most widely spoken foreign language throughout Europe. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

4 Role of English in Global Communication "English is the main language of books, newspapers, airports and air-traffic control, international business and academic conferences, science, technology, diplomacy, sport, international competitions, pop music and advertising … "English is the main language of books, newspapers, airports and air-traffic control, international business and academic conferences, science, technology, diplomacy, sport, international competitions, pop music and advertising …

5 Role of English in Global Communication “ Over two-thirds of the world's scientists read in English. Three quarters of the world's mail is written in English … “ Over two-thirds of the world's scientists read in English. Three quarters of the world's mail is written in English …

6 Role of English in Global Communication “English is the defacto international language of much of the business communication in the world…

7 Role of English in Global Communication “Over eighty percent of the material on the World Wide Web is in English …

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9 Role of English in Global Communication English is the language of choice by more people, to learn as a second language, than any other language in the world.

10 Role of English in Global Communication Most parents when asked which language they would prefer their children learn as a second language reply, "English". ( All above statistics obtained by British Council) David Crystal- English as a global language Cambridge University Press, 1997 Most parents when asked which language they would prefer their children learn as a second language reply, "English". ( All above statistics obtained by British Council) David Crystal- English as a global language Cambridge University Press, 1997

11 Spoken vs. Written English The worst part about it was I had a friend sitting up here and she ’ s saying “ ha ha ”… And I was saying “ Go get the police.. Go, Get someone ”...I later learned that there are some people who do that in the face of disaster … I mean they just start cracking up as opposed to crying.

12 Spoken vs. Written English My helpful friend, perhaps not realizing that I was serious, began laughing. Sue roared all the harder as my situation became more difficult. She claimed I looked funny, clinging there screaming. I realized that she was laughing because she was incapable of acting: the situation must have been greatly disturbing to her, and so she treated it as if it were another situation..

13 Spoken vs. Written English Face-to-face communication provides individuals an opportunity to express themselves in ways designed to elicit physical and verbal reactions from an audience, which help the communicator determine whether or not specific communication techniques are successful in reaching diverse audiences.

14 Spoken vs. Written English Written documents do not provide this kind of exposure or assurance that what is being conveyed in printed form is understood by a particular audience. Furthermore, when faced with the prospect of communicating to a Global audience, writers and communicators must negotiate the challenge of communicating information across cultural and societal barriers associated with both people and industry..

15 How to Write Globally 1. Avoid words with multiple meanings 1. present (SOMETHING GIVEN) noun something which you are given, without asking for it, on a special occasion, especially to show friendship, or to say thank you: ex. They gave me theatre tickets as a present. 2. present (NOW) noun the present, the period of time which is happening now, not the past or the future; now ex. The play is set in the present. 3. present (PLACE) adjective [after verb] in a particular place: ex. The whole family was present. 4. present (GIVE) verb to give, provide or make known: ex. The winners were presented with medals 5. present (INTRODUCE) verb ex. She presents the late-night news. 1. gift (PRESENT) noun a present or something which is given: ex. The guests all arrived bearing gifts. 2. gift noun INFORMAL something which is surprisingly easy or cheap: ex. $100 for a good leather coat? It's a gift!

16 How to Write Globally 1. Avoid words with multiple meanings Other ambiguous words: fix, get, go, put, run Use difficult instead of hard Ex. It was very difficult to understand what he meant. Use repair instead of fix The IT technician repaired the computer malfunction. Use after instead of once After they arrived, the meeting began. Use context or extra words to make meaning clear

17 How to Write Globally 2. Use lots of subheadings Easier for readers to find most relevant sections. A heading can summarize contents below. Use a heading that is a whole sentence.

18 How to Write Globally 3. Write concisely Don’t waste words. Avoid using too many adjectives or adverbs, unless the meaning of the words you are using are too ambiguous.

19 How to Write Globally 4. Avoid metaphors The teacher got to the bottom (source) of the problem. My dad was boiling (very angry) mad. His idea was difficult to swallow (accept). The homework was a breeze (easy to do). My memory of the event is foggy (unclear). If I were you, I would steer (stay away) clear of that topic. After graduating from college, William decided to market (present) himself as a computer specialist. Alice was thrilled when her idea began to bear fruit (produced results.)

20 How to Write Globally 5. Avoid slang Do you know where the action(excitement) is in this town? I really need some antifreeze (liquor) in me on cold days like this. After working all day I am really beat (exhausted). That was a hairy (dangerous) plane trip. I am glad the storm is over. Can you give me a gentle prod (reminder) next week so I won't forget? Your idea is really red hot (important). If you screw up (make a mistake) one more time, I will fire you. 'll give the puzzle another shot (try). I am glad you got yourself out of that jam (trouble).

21 How to Write Globally 6. Repeat important points using different words. "This lifeboat is designed to hold no more than 20 passengers”. “The maximum number of people in this boat is 20”.

22 How to Write Globally 7. Keep sentences short Don't try to express more than a few ideas in one sentence. 25 words is about the limit, and an average of 10 to 15 words is good. If you want to vary your writing, one can vary the length of sentences within a paragraph. Ex. short/medium/medium/short/long

23 How to Write Globally 7. Keep sentences short Ex. The Fixed Securities Fund portfolio has reduced the term of its investments to match the average length to maturity of the government bond market as a whole. The Fixed Securities Fund portfolio has reduced the term of its investments. The term now matches the average length to maturity of the whole government bond market.

24 How to Write Globally 8. Avoid variation of synonyms Unwritten rule in English that you must not use the same word twice in a paragraph. This practice often confuses readers whose native language is not English Other languages, without so many synonyms, don't vary words in this way. If you are to use synonyms, use a simple one if it captures your meaning just as well. Ex. “ameliorated the situation” “improved the situation”

25 How to Write Globally 9. Use bullet points - but they should be full sentences Bullet points are often only a few words, which is not enough to convey meaning without being ambiguous. Therefore a bullet point should be a whole sentence.

26 How to Write Globally 10. Use plenty of punctuation Some sentences are hard to understand, because you can't work out where the punctuation should go. To make long sentences easier to understand, insert commas and dashes between parts of the sentence. An alternative to punctuation symbols is to use "punctuation words" - which act as punctuation, but add meaning at the same time. These are linking words, such as subordinate (because, since, although, etc.) and coordinate conjunctions (or, for but yet, etc. and transitions words (for example, however, therefore,, furthermore, in fact, that is etc.)

27 How to Write Globally 11. Use words that are common - but not too common Your writing will be clearer if you replace words that are very common (but ambiguous) with words that are less common (but have only one meaning). For example, "difficult" instead of "hard. But if the replacement word is too uncommon, the readers won't know it.

28 How to Write Globally 12. If you use a rare word, either explain it or provide clues Place the word in a context that helps to make the meaning clear.

29 How to Write Globally 13. Make sure that "it" is unambiguous Some languages don't have this concept - and people who speak those languages have trouble with "it" in English. So when you write "it" make sure there's only one noun it can refer to. Ex. The cat ate the mouse and it died shortly thereafter.

30 How to Write Globally 14. Avoid using nouns as adjectives, specially several in a row Many nouns in English can also be used as adjectives. When a noun is preceded by several adjectives, and some of those adjectives are normally nouns, confusion can arise. low income tax offset adj + n/adj + n/adj + n low income-tax offset (offset for low income-tax) or low-income tax offset (tax offset for people with low incomes)

31 How to Write Globally 15. Try to avoid the passive voice Use active language and avoid the passive voice. Avoid to be verbs and try to replace helping verbs such as have, had, has, do, does, did and other vague verbs like get and got. Ex. I had opportunities to develop my skills. I sought opportunities to develop my skills. I got the promotion. I earned the promotion. She did well in the competitive environment. She thrived in the competitive environment. The salesman told the audience about his products. The salesman promoted his products to the audience.

32 How to Write Globally 15. Avoid new words that aren't in dictionaries - unless they are very common Dictionaries take years to add new words, and many people in developing countries use old dictionaries. So if you use a fairly new word, and your readers don't have fairly new dictionaries, they won't be able to look it up.

33 How to Write Globally 16. Abbreviations: avoid them or explain them A high proportion of abbreviations can make a document almost unintelligible. Write obscure abbreviations out in full. Another way of increasing readability is to mark abbreviations clearly - either writing them all in capital letters, or ending them with full stops - unless those full stops could be confused with the end of a sentence.

34 How to Write Globally 17. Avoid using contractions Don’t.. I mean do not use contractions. At times they are a challenge for people who read English as a foreign language.

35 How to Write Globally 18. Avoid phrasal and modal auxiliary verbs Phrasal verbs: call up (draft), pull in (attract), drop down (decline) Modal auxiliary verbs: should, could, can, would, might, may ex. A representative should contact you within 48 hours.

36 How to Write Globally 18. Avoid phrasal and modal auxiliary verbs Ex. We are looking at all possibilities. We are considering all possibilities I suggest we wrap up the project by July. I suggest we complete the project by July.

37 How to Write Globally 19. Avoid sentences that start with a ‘ false subject ’. ‘ It is ’ ‘ There are ’ Ex. It is extraordinary how warm the weather is for July. The weather is extraordinarily warm for July. It has been observed that a certain ambivalence prevails. We have noticed that most people are ambivalent. 19. Avoid sentences that start with a ‘ false subject ’. ‘ It is ’ ‘ There are ’ Ex. It is extraordinary how warm the weather is for July. The weather is extraordinarily warm for July. It has been observed that a certain ambivalence prevails. We have noticed that most people are ambivalent.

38 How to Write Globally 20. Avoid Negative questions Ex. You don't have the courage to acknowledge that your allegations have no factual basis whatsoever, do you? Do you admit that you made false allegations?

39 How to Write Globally 21. Avoid Double Negatives Ex. The 1995/96 turnover is not displeasing. The 1995/96 turnover is pleasing.

40 How to Write Globally 23. Avoid Negative Words 1. Negative words:No, not, nobody 2. Words with negative implications: only, unless, without, excluding, despite, default, etc. 3. Words with negative feeling: cancel, reject Ex. The shipment will not arrive until late January. The shipment will arrive in late January. Hate saving time and money? Don't click here. Want to save time and money? Click here.

41 How to Write Globally 24. Avoid Ambiguous dates February 3, February 2008 USA 2/3/08 Europe/Russia etc 3/2/08 Others 08/2/3

42 How to Write Globally 25. Sums of Money US$100CHF CAN $100CFA AUD$100CFP HK$100 NZ$100 S$100 NT$100

43 Summary Avoid: words with multiple meanings metaphors slang variation of synonyms nouns used as adjectives ambiguous “ it ” abbreviations new uncommon words passive voice contractions phrasal & modal auxiliary verbs sentences with ‘ false subjects ’ negative questions double negatives negative words ambiguous dates Avoid: words with multiple meanings metaphors slang variation of synonyms nouns used as adjectives ambiguous “ it ” abbreviations new uncommon words passive voice contractions phrasal & modal auxiliary verbs sentences with ‘ false subjects ’ negative questions double negatives negative words ambiguous dates

44 Summary Use: repetition of important words short sentences full sentence bullet points punctuation linking & transition words Use: repetition of important words short sentences full sentence bullet points punctuation linking & transition words

45 Большое спасибо REFERENCES Scholes, Robert and Comley, Nancy R., The Practice of Writing, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1985 Samuels, Marilyn Schauer The Technical Writing Process, Oxford University Press, New York, 1989 Coward, Nancy Caswell, Cross-Cultural Communication: Is It Greek To You? Technical Communication 39, Society for Technical Communication,Arlington, Virginia, John Scafidi


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