Re: Language differences in FRENCH

Subject: Re: Language differences in FRENCH
From: Susan Brown <sbrown -at- JSCSYS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 1997 08:07:59 -0400

At 05:42 PM 8/14/97 -0400, John Glenn wrote:
>Interesting. Wonder how many other languages also prefer
>passive. Hebrew-language newspapers typically opt for
>passive heds (vs. US active).

At the STC conference in Toronto in May there was a very interesting
session, 'Lost in Translation'. The discussion primarily revolved around
being culturally sensitive in writing. I attended this session as we have
several online help systems that will be translated into French.

Japanese was another language where voice is very important. Command type
instructions (Insert the disk. Click the button.) are considered very rude:
enough so that documentation written in this manner will NOT be used.
Gender neutral language does not go over well in Arab countries. (If you
don't use the masculine, you must have something inferior.)

Even simple things like how to list multiple authors can get you into
trouble. In North America, where authors are of equal importance, we list
the names alphabetically. In France, the women always get listed first. In
the Middle East and Asia, the men's names should come first.

This doesn't only hold for translating: these issues must also be taken
into consideration when writing in English for a different culture. Colour
use is also important: some cultures have strong negative associations with
certain colours, and use of these in publications or software distributed
to these countries (i.e. red to Arab countries) can strongly influence
document or product acceptance.

As if we didn't already have enough on our minds.

Susan Brown
Technical Communicator
JSC Systems Corp.
sbrown -at- jscsys -dot- com

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing

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