English for Technical communication
The word communication has its roots in the Latin word communicane, meaning ‘to impart’ English being a universal language, communicating fluently in English has become essential for everyone who wishes to communicate well in the academic and professional spheres. Even though the majority of tasks performed by an engineer or scientist are of technical nature, their success depends on the effectiveness with which they assimilate or disseminate technical or formal information. So, it is important for students of science and technology to master over English for their Technical communication.
Communication is important in all the walks of life. Communication is an integral part of daily activity. It starts from morning alarm clock makes sound and urges us to get out of bed. It continues till we enter the world of dream in our sleep. Messages that are non-technical or informal in nature is categorized as general purpose communication. whereas messages pertaining to technical, industrial or business matters belong to the category of technical or business communication.
Technical communication is a central factor in the emerging knowledge society, where technocrats and professionals in different areas face new communication challenges. Daniel G.Rioden quoted the definition of Technical Communication of Killingsworth and Gilbertson in this book on Technical Communication as follows:
Technical communication is “Writing that aims to get work done, to change people by changing the way they do things” (T.C.16). The definition for Technical Communication stated by Ashraf Rizvi in this book on Effective Technical communication as “transmission of scientific and technical information from one individual or group to another” (10). He also mentioned the three important requirements of effective technical communication they are:
A) Subject Competence
B) Linguistic Competence
C) Organizational competence
Subject Competence is the first requirement of technical communication. It is the possession of appropriate knowledge of a particular technical subject matter as well as the possession of highly sophisticated technical or professional skills.
Linguistic Competence, on the other hand, is the possession of appropriate language skills and the ability to present scientific facts or information clearly and objectively.
Organizational competence is the ability to organize technical information in a logical and structured way. It includes several skills such as the ability to sequence thoughts in a sentence, organize a paragraph according to the needs of the reader and the topic. It is important to use appropriate logical ordering and provide thematic coherence to expression.
Difference between general communication and technical communication:-
General communication contains a general, message whereas technical communication contains a technical message,. General communication needs general vocabulary whereas technical communication needs specialized vocabulary. There is no formal element for technical communication. Technical communication has formal elements like letters, memos, reports etc. General communication uses both objective and subjective patterns but for technical communication there is no place for subjectivity. General communication is not always for a specific audience but technical communication is always for specific audience who has got the technical knowledge.
According to killingsworth and Gilbertson, it is helpful to view technical writing as “writing that authors use to empower readers by preparing them for and moving them toward effective action” (T.C 19). In order to make the technical writing as a tool to move the readers towards effective action on has to follow Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity
The first characteristic feature of technical communication is accuracy, which includes accuracy of information as well as accuracy of expression. Accuracy of expression refers to no errors of grammar, spelling, punctuation, or usage. It all demands ‘precision’ in the use of words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs. For example instead of using difficult words like ‘ emanate’, ‘dissent’, ‘commute’ one use simple words like ‘originate’, ‘disagree’, ‘travel’.
Brevity is the quality of being brief but comprehensive in expression. One can achieve brevity by avoiding wordiness and repetition. Some example for wordiness one needs to avoid in one’s writing are instead of using phrase like ‘at low ebb’. One can use exhausted and ‘bad blood’ for enmity ‘all in all’ for everything.
Clarity in communication is the quality of being unambiguous and easily understood. In technical communication, clarity contributes to communicative effectiveness. Clarity can be achieved by using direct language, specific and concrete words, and clear expression. Since technical communication is more concerned with ‘what was done’, ‘what happened’ or ‘what was looked in’. So, one should use impersonal language. The use of impersonal language involves the use of impersonal passive and the exclusion of personal elements and personal pronouns.
The use of technology shrunks the world into a global village. In this global village. Anyone can master English bur they need some special qualities like vocabulary, brevity, clarity, accuracy to master over technical communication. If they have got this they will listen, speak and write well.
- Sharma, Sangeeta and Meenakshi Raman. Technical communication English skills for Engineers. Oxford University Press, New Delhi: 2003
- Rizvi M. Ashraf. Effective Technical communication.Tata McGraw- Hill, 2005.
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