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Re: empowering the user and traditional tech writing - style discussion



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Dimitris Glezos escribió:
>
> The use of 'you' is even more tricky in some languages (like greek),
where the
> plural 'you' is different and the adjectives/etc change too. For example,
> translating "Are you sure you want to insert this?" becomes something like:
>
>   "Είσαι σίγουρος πως θέλεις να το εισάγεις αυτό;"
>   =
>   "Are you (singular number exposed) sure (masculine gender exposed)
you want
> (singular) to insert (singular) this?"
>
> So, we try to hide it, by using plural form and indirect speech:
>
>   "Σίγουρα να γίνει η εισαγωγή αυτού του αντικειμένου;"
>   =
>   "Surely should this to be inserted?"
>
> Of course, this leads to *even more* formal/distant/indirect writing
than just
> avoiding the presence of the word 'you' and even less user-motivation
as Karsten
> mentioned.

It happens something similar in spanish, but thankfully we have a
"neutral second person of the singular" pronoun: "Usted", which can
even be obviated by the way the verbs are conjugated. Sticking to the
example you provided:

"Are you sure you want to insert this?" Would translate to something
similar to:

"Está seguro de insertar esto?" Or "¿Está seguro de querer insertar esto?"

I too, at first was confused with the lack of gender distinguishing in
the English language other than by pronoun (i.e there is no way you
can determine if a conjugation is masculine or feminine just by the
conjugated formula, also applies to adjectives where you require the
pronoun), like "seguro", masculine, often neutral form of "sure", also
refers to a masculine subject and "segura" feminine, refers only to a
feminine subject (so no gender confusion here).

I think that the objective for a "neutral" writing style can be
achieved in any language, problem is that what will be required is
often a good understanding of the original language a piece is written
in, to be able to translate. You know that old Italian saying?
"Traduttore, traditore" which means "Translator, traitor", because you
can't possibly translate vis-a-vis from one language to another, there
are simply linguistic forms and formulas that untranslatable across
languages, that's when as translator you have to keep to the context
and try to express the original punctual linguistic form into a more
descriptive one, and vice versa, some languages need too many words to
express something where others only require one or two, etc.
>
> So, what's my opinion on this? Not sure. Probably something in the
middle. The
> text does seem of better quality and is more accessible. On the other
hand, if
> people don't read it (or it doesn't have an effect), it's useless.
>
> One could see two groups of texts here:
>
>   1. The guides/tutorials
>   2. formal, must-be-objective texts, like press releases, encyclopedia
> articles, short-texts like application buttons).
>
> The goals of the guides are to not bore the user (have him read the
whole text)
> and urge him to do something. It's more like giving him a hand than stating
> things, which is more like the second group. Having a slightly less formal
> wording in these cases might accomplish their goals in a better way
than the
> formal wording.
>
> -dim
>
>
> PS: Please excuse my poor english. If I wasn't clear, I agree with
Karsten. ;-)
>
>

Well, I thought that this is why there are "Editors", who will read
and provide feedback to the original author(s) and make sure the
language and wording are accurate and clear. Not only from a technical
perspective, as the Editor does not have to "know as much Linux or
about Fedora as the original author", but the job of him is to help
the original author to correctly express that which (s)he wants to
say, so it could be understood by non technical readers or a broader
audience.
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