Thursday, March 24, 2011

Microsoft Word Now Includes Squiggly Blue Line To Alert Writer When Word Is Too Advanced For Mainstream Audience

Headline and picture: The Onion

This joke from The Onion really speaks to me. Technical writers always have to juggle between providing quickly-understandable documentation to a world-wide audience, and preserving the preciseness of the language in which they write.

Some companies have already opted for Simplified English, both to help non-native speakers understand the documentation, and to streamline translation. Controlling language goes beyond limiting vocabulary to "mainstream words" and words that can't be mistaken for a verb or a synonym. It also imposes simplified grammar and style. Although streamlining communication is clearly beneficial in the business world, one can only fear that Simplified English could slowly become the norm in more literaly realms, bringing everyone to the lowest common denominator.

The pursuit of the perfect balance between reabability and richness of content might indeed be a Sisyphean ordeal :-)

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