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Monday, May 30, 2011

Part 2 of Cross-cultural communication conundrums (conundra)

Thank you for your patience, dear readers: here's the awaited English interpretation of the Hiberno-English example I gave in my earlier post, for those who didn't try going to places like the Irish slang dictionary site to look things up:

"Oh be the hokie: my laptop was banjaxed. I felt so knackered after trying to fix it that when I met yer wan on the footpath by Mssrs., I could barely say how'ya."
"For goodness' sake: my laptop was severely damaged. I felt so exhausted after trying to fix it that when I met that human female (of any age) whose name I've forgotten on the sidewalk by my local pub (you know where it is), I could barely greet her." 

Actually, the interjection (which could also be interpreted as "for crying out loud" etc.) wasn't something heard frequently, and is from a prior generation. As well, footpath is arguably UK in origin. I noticed also from the dictionary site I found, that UK English slang is sometimes identified as such in that list, but some have, such as the adjectival sanguine references used for emphasis in negative contexts (by which I mean "bloody/bleeding") or "sodding" been fully integrated into daily language. 

"Your man" (pronounced "yer man") is the male equivalent of "your one". Dubliners all gave street directions in relation to the nearest pub, which speaks to how culturally important they were, with the implication that everyone knew pubs better than street names.

In any case, aside from idioms, slangs, and colloquial expressions, I would recommend keeping the following in mind to facilitate comprehension in both spoken and written communiqués:

  • Sentences should only consist of just one subject, one object, and one verb. Heaven knows how much trouble I used to have when translating Latin sentences: many were as long as paragraphs in themselves.
  • Use active voice and avoid negation, either singular or double (an example to avoid: "The web content should be crafted carefully, not unlike a short press release where the visitor is presented with a concise, not excessively detailed description of the topic.")
  • Commence and end topic coverage each time with the main point: this is a sound organic SEO technique as well, which must certainly have originated from the writing best practice.
  • Clearly indicate when the subject is changing, especially when there are several disparate topics that require covering during a single session (or document).
  • If there is a natural progression of topics, such as in educational deliverables, ensure that you optimize the topic sequence. In other words, plan the talk or documentation such that foundational concepts are covered thoroughly and confirmed as understood before proceeding to content that builds upon the earlier material.

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.