I get on to designing an e-induction program for an organization that has branches across the globe. The agenda is to inculcate new employees with its philosophy and principles.
I write, “As an organization, we do not believe in graveyard shifts”, referring to the 12AM to 8AM schedule. And, I beam with immense satisfaction on having added ‘color’ to an otherwise mundane stuff.
But, little do I realize the frightening impact this statement could have on the local audience, when it gets machine-translated into their native language.
The insight I get out of this context is this. The language too has gone global – in the true sense of the term. And, therefore, it becomes important for me to keep my content style suitable for the worldwide audience, whenever I have similar contexts on hand. And…
Turn to MSTP (Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications) for further guidance!
To help me succeed in my endeavors, the publication:
- Asks me to avoid long, convoluted sentences, as they could be hard on non-native English speakers
- Encourages me to use lists and tables wherever possible, in place of complicated sentence constructs
- Discourages me from using idioms, as they could throw the translation out of gear
- Advises me to ensure that my language is free of grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors, as per the machine translation syntax
- Underlines the importance of using articles wherever required, to avoid ambiguities (as for instance, “Empty the container” as against “Empty container”)
- Cautions me against using jargons indiscriminately
These are just a few samples of MSTP’s recommendations on language globalization.
More can be viewed in its 3rd chapter ‘Content for a worldwide audience’.
Written by Nirmal Ranganathan
Published on 26-Jul-2013