Friday, 23 July 2010

How to write plane English for an international Audience

Maintain cultural neutrality
taken from

Writing for an international audience requires a keen sensitivity to the vast cultural differences that prevail throughout the world. We are tempted to believe that the world is becoming a smaller, more uniform place. A casual reading of the daily news, however, shows that the last decade of the 20th century is in fact witness to an increase in the importance of cultural identity!

Here are a few examples of things that require careful editing:

  • geographical references
  • historical references
  • date and time formats
  • political references
  • monetary references
  • units of measurement
  • experiential references
  • references to popular culture such as sports figures and celebrities
  • references to social customs such as coffee breaks
  • social events
  • social and religious value systems

The original text below is a good example of what not to write for an international audience:

Original Text (from "Kodak Digital Science User's Guide", 1998)

Instead of film, a digital camera places your pictures on a memory card. The pictures are made up of pixels. Stand really close to your TV -- so close that your mother would yell at you if she saw you. These little dots that make up the picture are pixels. It's the more the merrier when it comes to pixels and the quality of your digital pictures. But everything has its price. The more pixels you have (or the better the resolutions in other words) the more space you use on the camera memory card.

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Play Hang man and review or learn new vocabulary