Thoughts from an Entering Member of the Technical Communication Community

by Ellen Barr

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As I shift my focus from the "Humanities" to the "Technologies," it occurs to me that I have encountered a flip side of this language I call English.

Where subtlety, suspense, or irony once added to the quality of our message, overtness and directness now drive our message home. Where lofty elocution once won us praise among our colleagues, simplified sentences, activated passives, and parallel structures now preside over our creations.

In addition, I have gone from pondering the "why" of human endeavor to detailing the "how;" from abstracting the essence -- to making the abstract concrete; from considering what has been -- to concentrating on that which has certainly never been before.

Different focus, yes. And yet, at the bottom of it all, where language is our medium -- isn't our goal, after all, still communication? And how gratifying it is when we bridge another gap.

© 2000 by STC Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Originally published July/August, 1990 in the Boston Broadside