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Authors who cannot write

I'm editing a short article intended for dissemination to our customer base. The document was written by an engineer in a non-English speaking country. This document is a mess. I've been in the telecom industry for 20 years, but I have no idea what this guy is trying to say. I've sent it back, I've asked another engineer to review it, but I keep getting the same gibberish back. There's no one to escalate this to, and I am being pressured to distribute this because customers are asking for it. But it is, honest to Pete, completely incomprehensible even to other engineers.

Has anyone else dealt with this? I should say that I speak and read several languages, have been a technical writer and editor for twenty years, and routinely encounter and deal with folks whose primary language is other than English. I have every possible sympathy for someone who is trying to write a technical paper in another language. But this is simple unacceptable. Suggestions?




  • jaxheysjaxheys Posts: 6
    I've run into this many times. Your only option is to edit that sucker until it's understandable. Is it troubleshooting? Put it into steps, then get the author to point out the errors/omissions. Is it conceptual? Try to create a graphic from what the author is describing.

    My point is that adding some structure to the content can sometimes be a step forward. Without looking at it, I can't help much more than that.

    Also, there ought to be someone you can escalate to, like the author's manager. It's odd that there's no one.
  • Imposing structure is a good suggestion, thanks! Many of these folks have no grasp of English grammar. As for escalation, it's not that these authors don't have managers, it's that their managers or reviewers are no better writers than they are. That's just something I'll have to work around. Again, thanks for the suggestion. I'll try it out!
  • GeorgeFlarianGeorgeFlarian United StatesPosts: 16
    imposition of structure will definatly work for you....
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