atw: Re: Pronounseeashun

  • From: "Christine Kent" <cmkentau@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 6 Jan 2012 11:00:24 +1100

So Geoff, if your audience is almost completely people who text, can written
language also be reduced to texted language?


I must confess that I tend to ignore twitter feeds which use texting
language, but it is becoming more and more the norm in order to say more in
less space.  Why would we not abbreviate you to U, given there is no
competing word in English so its meaning is abundantly clear?  Similarly, as
it's and its are quite different in context, why not miss the apostrophe
given the meaning is abundantly clear.  I haven't worked it through with
there and their, but I would also guess that context is all we need to know
which is which, so let's simplify life and make them both "there".  At the
same time let's make let's lets as its meaning is also abundantly clear in


It's really not as simple as it looks to establish what it is OK to do in
what context, and just where we can draw the line.  I still cringe at most
of what I read on Facebook from those I am connected with (yes I have
hundreds of "friends", and in that context, the meaning of the word "friend"
has changed) and I struggle when twitter feeds come through to facebook, but
I seriously doubt most of my "friends" could care less. I would hate this
on-line and text form of "communication" (or lack of it) to take over from
decent English, but I cannot say that it won't.


For my part I will continue to cringe when I hear alternate in place of
alternative, because the meaning IS different, and will flinch when I see
that I have used the wrong "there" while writing in haste, but I don't think
my opinion matters much any more.


Meanwhile, I do make my own rules where it suits me, such as in the sentence
"(Where) Do we draw the line?" where I have written two questions as one and
messed around with capitalisation to make it obvious.  Well it was obvious
to me.  Was it obvious to you? 




From: austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Geoffrey
Sent: Friday, 6 January 2012 10:19 AM
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: atw: Re: Pronounseeashun


Christine, we draw the line by looking at why we write as technical writers.
We write to communicate practical information. We do not communicate, or we
risk failing to communicate, if we do not adopt the language of our intended
audience. If our untended audience is going to find our eighteenth century
grammar quaint, stilted and distracting, then we risk communication failure.
Readers take their eye off the message as they ponder the language. So
there's one line. Likewise if we know that a significant section of our
audience will grimace if we adopt certain practices or words (given the
seemingly ineradicable  prejudice that attaches to certain words and
practices). Such prejudice causes the reader to be distracted, and what is
distracting gets in the way of communication. It thwarts the very purpose of
writing. There's another line.


Now suppose we were still alive in 50 years time and most English speakers
use youse as the second-person plural. Wouldn't our continuing to use you
when youse is expected  likely to be found quaint, stilted and distracting?
It would get in the way of communication, much as perambulator if used now
would. Remember that much of what caused our grandparents to grimace
attracts no notice today.


So, there is a line, but it is a moveable line. That line, at any one time,
is the language practices expected by the majority of our readers. It is, by
definition, conventional English. And it varies from era to era, and it
varies from English to English


To the fundamentalists who want to stick to the so-called rules they were
taught at school: will you continue to use an en dash (and do you use the en
dash now) to indicate that you are treating a multiplicity as a singularity
when almost no-one knows what an en dash is used for and most have never
even heard of an en dash




Geoffrey Marnell

Principal Consultant

Abelard Consulting Pty Ltd 

P: 03 9596 3456

M: 0419 574 668

F: 03 9596 3625

W:  <>


From: austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Christine Kent
Sent: Friday, 6 January 2012 9:23 AM
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: atw: Re: Pronounseeashun




Do youse understand?


(Where) Do we draw the line?


U get it?



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