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Monday, June 6, 2011

Balancing diction (quality) and comprehensibility (effectiveness)



Something which by now may have become apparent to my colleagues and friends alike, is that in personal writing I gravitate toward long and complicated sentences. The formality of my writing has also been remarked upon by more than one friend. On the other hand, I also try to optimize diction: that is, I have an old habit of attempting to use whatever word I believe is most appropriate, regardless of how rarely one might hear it.

In my Japanese language post from May, I had mentioned that I experience a constant struggle to maintain linguistic competence. In fact, it seems self evident that disuse leads to atrophy in many situations, be they physical (musculature), neural (pathways to access memories) or otherwise.

With tweeting, the stringent limit on message length means I struggle with the inevitable prevalence of abbreviations and  (in that case, &) initialisms - and rarely, acronyms - far more in English than I do in Japanese. However, in the latter tongue I clearly need to acquire more Kango (vocabulary of Chinese origin). This is why I can finally appreciate the efficacy of Kango (in succinctly yet accurately conveying information), and in turn why reading the newspapers in Japanese is a challenge.

Professionally speaking, my time as documentation author both while at university (I created an administrator's guide for OCLC) and in the workplace (for a Notes-based CRM application) begot some persisting habits. In that context, I ensure that sentences are shorter and vocabulary is pared, although in the latter practice there is a clear conflict between wishing to give the reader a plethora of synonyms for interests' sake, and the need to facilitate the translation process especially where MT (machine translation) is involved at the onset.

This blog, then, is a merged entity when it comes to its style as it consists of personal ramblings about professional topics, readers may anticipate that my thought processes will be documented here without too much editing. Hopefully, my formality will not be mistaken for aloofness, any more than my diction is taken (as it had been, quite often, during my school years) for arrogance.

About Mayo

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Professional: As "Senior Enterprise SEO Strategist" in IBM's Digital Marketing division, I provide consulting and training services for both internal and external clients. Formerly I was involved in Natural Language Processing, software localization, quality assurance and documentation authoring.
Personal: INTJ Nikkei Nisei ex-patriated Canadian who takes photographs and enjoys Baroque through late Classical music. The G+ page shares some of the "best of" photos.