Last month I attended AODC 2010, the Australasian Online Documentation and Content conference. We were in Darwin, in Australia’s “Top End”. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been posting my summaries of the conference sessions, derived from my notes taken during the presentations. All the credit goes to the presenter. Any mistakes or omissions are my own.
Frank “Choco” Munday presented the last session of the conference. Choco is an awesome presenter. It’s something of a tradition (the AODC has a few of those) that the conference ends with a raucous laugh. Choco excels at putting that sort of finishing touch to an event!
In this presentation, we looked at some horrors that technical writers may encounter and indeed should do our utmost to avoid.
“Eggcorn” is a linguistic term for the practice of replacing a complex or scientific term with a more commonly-used word, especially when people swap the unfamiliar part of a phrase with a word that occurs more often in their own dialect. An oft-quoted example is the use of “old-timers disease” instead of “Alzheimer’s disease”. Wikipedia says that the term “eggcorn” was coined by Geoffrey Pullum in 2003, based on a case where a woman used the phrase “egg corns” when she meant “acorns”.
Choco was specifically concerned with “eggcorns” as spell-as-you-speak errors. He took us through a rollicking and somewhat scathing look at a number of eggcorns, such as:
- “Should of” for “should have” – a frequent occurrence in Australia.
- “At your beckoned call”.
- “For all intensive purposes”.
- “I think I might be lack toast and tolerant” for “lactose intolerant”.
Choco showed a number of examples from print and online media, and lambasted them thoroughly. It’s well worth getting him to run through his list with you.
Next Choco turned his eagle eye to mixed metaphors. Politicians were worth their weight in gold here.
Choco said, “I would slip one or two into my technical documentation, just to see what happens”. (Mixed metaphors, that is, not politicians.) 🙂
Unwords got some Choco love too. Choco suggests we take a look at the Unword Dictionary at unwords.com.
So I did that. Here’s an unword I like:
19. bandpulliphobia (bănd-pu’lə-fō’bē-ə)
- a. (n.) The fear of pulling off a band-aid; Especially when counting down from three.
Remembering that we were attending a serious technical writing conference, Choco did mention with a straight face (for a split second, anyway) that unwords are words that are not really words, so there’s a chance that people won’t understand them. We should therefore avoid them in our technical documentation. I was glad of this reminder, as I was starting to feel the temptation. 😉
A fittingly boisterous end to AODC. Fun, but with a serious undertone. Thank you Choco.
This week a colleague, Tom, came up to me with a big grin and asked, “What’s the collective noun for a group of technical writers?”
He had another developer in tow, a new starter at that, and the grin made me wonder what mischief lay behind the question. 😉 But it’s a goody and it made me laugh. I came up with “a scribble of technical writers“. Later, it occurred to me that we could call a group of agile technical writers a “jot“.
Can you think of any good names for us and for what happens when we get together in a group?
Warning: Not for sensitive viewers. This post contains a truly awful pun, bad grammar and lamentable verse. Read on at your own peril. Are you sitting down?
At work we write the release notes a while before each release and let our colleagues know when page is available for their edification and their delight. We let them know via a blog post on our internal wiki. Such blog posts tend to be a bit monotonous. “The Crowd 2.0.3 release notes are now available. Please note that this document is a draft and is for internal information only.”
This week I had a bit of fun. It was a spur of the moment thing that took me just two minutes. Hence the deplorable verse:
Rhyming the Crowd 2.0.3 Release Notes
Now you can see
What’s in Crowd 2.0.3
We’re not kiddin’
But the doc’s still hidden
So don’t give it away
But do have your say
Tom, one of our developers, snapped back with this comment:
“Doggerel fooding the release notes?”
LOL. Nerd humour at its best. Thanks Tom!
To “dogfood” is to use your own product, so that you experience its strengths and weaknesses intimately. The term started off as a noun phrase in “eating your own dog food” but is now commonly used as a verb too. In certain circles. 😉
These “Yard table assemblage instructions” were included with a garden table we bought. 🙂 Actually, the structure of the guide is good. There’s a list of parts and then the “how to”. It’s just the language that needs a bit of tender loving care. I love the way it degenerates towards the end, as if the poor author just gave up because it was too hard.
1.One piece of iron flower pattern glass (in midst have a hole).
2.Four table feet.
3.Two fixed stators.
5.Eight screw caps.
1.Use the screws and screw caps screw down the table feet and fixed stators.
2.Table top is upward.
3.half-round plastics of under the table top direct against the table feet, Then press it down.
We did manage to assemble the table with no trouble.