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Instructions, Visuals, and the English-speaking Bias in Technical Communication

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This study aims to assess the quantity and quality of Spanish translations in user manuals for electronic products written in the United States within the last five years. While we cannot reasonably offer culturally appropriate translations for every language and cultural group represented in the United States, recent immigration patterns from Mexico strongly suggest a growing need for accurate translation into Spanish. First, I discuss why we need culturally-appropriate Spanish translations in user manuals for electronic products, how cultural differences can affect perceptions of technical communication in other cultures, and the role that the technical communicator can play in making translations more culturally appropriate. Next, I discuss my assessment of 60 user manuals for electronic products. The findings of this study indicate that much more work needs to be done in the area of localization and translation to make the Spanish language versions of the manuals usable for a Mexican or Mexican-American audience.

Document Type: Journal Article

Publication date: May 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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