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Technical Writing Resources

03/16/2010 11:30 PM

http://www.sti.nasa.gov/publish/sp7084.pdf

《Grammar, Punctuation, and Capitalization A Handbook for Technical Writers and Editors》

I have been doing translation for over one year and at the same time I have been accumulating materials that pertains to my needs for translation (dictionary, mechanical manuals and recently writing standards, e.g. grammar; Punctuation, and Capitalization) . As a professional translator , i come to realize that lanuage skill and background knowledge is essential and attention to details are more important sometimes. I know some of the friends here have the experience of doing some technicial translation and have you guys have something to say on this ?

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#1

Re: one note on technical writing

03/17/2010 2:08 AM

Ms. McCaskill has produced a superlative manual. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Novices especially, and even excellent writers, will benefit from learning or reviewing this guide.

There are a very few cases in which I might prefer a different editorial choice, but McCaskill is excellent in addressing alternative (or perhaps even controversial) approaches.

For those who are interested in composition and editing as artful skills, I recommend One Book Five Ways. In it, a publisher receives five highly varied submissions for a book on gardening, and then compares/contrasts all sorts of things about them. Along the way, you get an overview of query letters, manuscript submissions, the MIT style guide, and an author's bio that is a rip-roaring hoot. This business ain't as dull as one might think!

[My Editor Crankshaft shtick refrains from detailing some glitches in the OP--already covered by McCaskill.]

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#2

Re: one note on technical writing

03/17/2010 6:21 AM

Thank you for this. I've started reading it, but really must get some work done.

I am well known (even on CR4) for being a bit of a grammar/spelling pedant, so this will help my condition!

Hmmmm106 pages of evening delight....

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#3

Re: one note on technical writing

03/17/2010 3:47 PM

Sorry to be a nitpicker, but

"attention to details are more important sometimes"

should read

"attention to details is more important sometimes".

Anyway, thanks for the reference. It looks like a winner.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: one note on technical writing

03/17/2010 8:35 PM

Sorry for the mistake. Yeah, it is a nice manual and i am reading it.

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#5

Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/18/2010 3:48 AM

Thanks for valuable resourse.

There is language in language. Technical english, medical english, legal english (or technical XXXX, medical XXXX....).

For good translation, one needs to master not only the basic language, but the language in language.

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#6

Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/18/2010 5:36 AM

I am also a pedant when it comes to the written word as I regard it as a basic skill, taught at school from an early age and essential to a successful later life. I too despair at the quality of written English in every facet of modern society including CR4 and, with respect - as has been mentioned in a previous post - even the "expert" OP has several grammatical errors, and he's raising this issue!

I'll be the first to admit that written English is often confusing to the uninitiated and has superfluous syllables and spellings (especially designed to baffle non-English speakers?), and so, whilst some of us castigate the writings of English-speakers, we more graciously accept that as a second language it is difficult to write absolutely correctly. In other words, if English is your second language we give you a bit more leeway and we'll forgive the occasional slip-up from the English-speaking guys.

To me, there is no excuse for grown-up, intelligent people to write badly. We all took similar basic English classes at school, so - Are people getting lazy? Were they not paying attention in class? Is it a memory problem? Do their jobs not require correct grammar, spelling and punctuation? Is it me? Does nobody else care any more?

So, what's the deal, guys? Why is there so much lethargy when it comes to the written word?

As an appendix to this............

Of all the newspapers and magazines I read on a regular basis, the ones with fewest grammatical mistakes are "Auto Express" (a weekly car magazine) and - would you believe it? - "The Sun" newspaper (better known for its topless "Page 3" girls!)

OK, I've left myself wide open to criticism of my own grammar by writing this post, (I took English at school nearly 50 years ago, so may have forgotten some of the rules) but I'm always open to constructive comments, so I'm posting it anyway. So there.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/18/2010 6:27 AM

I'm with you all the way!

To answer:

To me, there is no excuse for grown-up, intelligent people to write badly. We all took similar basic English classes at school, I

have to say that this isn't entirely true. About 8 years ago I started Italian and German night school classes. The Italian was at A-level (16-18 yo) standard. One of the other participants didn't know what a verb is. When the rest of us expressed surprise at this, she explained that she had never been taught this at school.

I was about 5 years older than her, and I was taught those basics in junior school, although I believe I'd learnt them earlier from my mum. I can clearly remember classes aged 8 - 9 where we underlined different parts of speech in different colours: verb, nouns, direct objects, indirect objects, prepositions, conjunctions.

My despair is now almost complete: even on Radio 4 (the BBC's falgship speech broadcaster) the newsreaders, correspondants and continuity announcers are unable to match the quantity of nouns to the verb. And don't get me started on less/fewer. No really, don't go there

so - Are people getting lazy? Were they not paying attention in class? Is it a memory problem? Do their jobs not require correct grammar, spelling and punctuation? Is it me? Does nobody else care any more?

They don't know enough to care.

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/18/2010 9:58 AM

So, what's the deal, guys? Why is there so much lethargy when it comes to the written word?

In this environment among many others, simple expediency is often mistaken for lethargy. I allow myself only so much time browsing GlobalSpec and other not-really applicable fora. So I give a good effort toward making my writing clear and correct, but can only afford a rough simulation of perfection. The opportunities to highly refine one's English product are sadly few.

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#9

Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/19/2010 4:31 AM

There is an English grammar section at http://www.freerice.com. I don't always agree with their answers, so I might try comparing them with your reference.

Thanks. (Should the smiley go before or after the full stop?)

EDIT

Here's one: why was I wrong to think it should have been capitalised?

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/19/2010 4:55 AM

"I love spring" trumps those others. ("The spring" suggests a coil of wire.)

--Editor Crankshaft.

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#13
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Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/19/2010 7:46 AM

"I love spring" trumps those others.

I agree, but, why don't the seasons have a capital letter. I've found lots of authorities now, which say that they don't, but, none of them says why.

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#14
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Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/19/2010 8:01 PM

For many grammatical questions, I can think of a plausible rationale for one way rather than another; i.e., say why.

In this case, I can't really think of anything. Maybe it's just a matter of convention, which might be arbitrary. As in German, English used to capitalize all nouns up until 1800 or so. I don't know how much Noah Webster influenced the change toward lower case.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/20/2010 6:31 AM

English used to capitalize all nouns up until 1800 or so

Well I certainly didn't know that!

Are there any other proper nouns I aught to know about, or, are these the only four (which everyone else seems to know are an exception)?

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#16
In reply to #15

Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/22/2010 6:58 AM

Depending on context, the cardinal compass directions can be either upper or lower case. If referring to one location to the west of another, lower case. If referring to a geographic region, the West versus the East. (I think, but I'm not sure the usage is uniform.) This seems to be one of those areas in which language is evolving, with some doubt as to definitive standards.

I'm not the French Academy, and thus not hooked into supposedly unalterable rules, but nor do I think just "anything goes." There are many judgment calls involved (overseas that would be "judgement"....), and reasonable variations. But there also are unreasonable variations, and I try to strike, and defend, some suitable distinctions. [The "but nor" construction I just used, as well as "and nor", are virtually unknown in the U.S., but sometimes I like them.]

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#17
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Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/22/2010 7:38 AM

Thanks.

If we (the US and UK) had the same rules as the French, then, someone would have to think of an English word for "bidet" .

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#18
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Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/22/2010 8:14 AM

We already have that--"sitzbath"--though it's a bit of a German derivative. Ain't language fun?

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#20
In reply to #15

Re: Technical Writing Resources

04/08/2010 11:11 PM

English used to capitalize all nouns up until 1800

Yes, I remember I used to use capitals sometime in 1787. .

( I use full stop on both sides, two satisfy both schools of thought..

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#21
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Re: Technical Writing Resources

04/09/2010 6:15 AM

But only half a pair of parentheses!

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#22
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Re: Technical Writing Resources

04/09/2010 6:23 AM

OMG: what's the singular of parentheses?

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#23
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Re: Technical Writing Resources

04/09/2010 6:28 AM

Randall - Easy: parenthesis.

Rose - Great spot, beat me to it!

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#24
In reply to #21

Re: Technical Writing Resources

04/09/2010 6:47 AM

When I wear both shoes, I say those as pair of shoes.

But, when I start wearing shoes, after wearing one, I say, I wore one shoe. (and not half a pair of shoes))

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#11
In reply to #9

Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/19/2010 5:08 AM

It could be argued that the smiley is a punctuation mark and so acts as the full stop

If not, then definitely before.

By the way, I was taught that the seasons start with a capital letter.

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#12
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Re: Technical Writing Resources

03/19/2010 5:40 AM

Merriam-Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary capitalizes none of the seasons, not even mentioning this as an alternative, let alone a requirement. --Editor Crankshaft

I am not sure how much weight this should be given; I disagree with MW9C from time to time, especially on their acceptance of the pronunciation "nucular" and the alleged words "anymore" and "alright".

(On the spectrum from descriptive to prescriptive dictionaries, I consider them to be too descriptive, but it is easy to go too far the other way, too.)

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#25
In reply to #9

Re: Technical Writing Resources

04/09/2010 6:56 AM

One more question for you randall.... from your expertise:

Why these are called smiley?

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#26
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Re: Technical Writing Resources

04/09/2010 7:54 AM

(ยด-`).。oO( ... )

I don't know: strictly speaking they're all emoticons, but the first ones used were nearly all smiley or happy:- :-) :) :o) :D :] :3 :c) :> =] 8) =) C:

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#27
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Re: Technical Writing Resources

04/09/2010 8:03 AM

A gift from me

Thanks

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#19

Re: Technical Writing Resources

04/08/2010 10:36 AM

Wow! I normally swear by Strunk & White, but a NASA guide just for us technical writers? Wow!

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