Module Four

Due: 23 February by 11:59pm Points: 20 Weight: 12% Readings -Chapter 10 -“Revising Information for a New Audience and Purpose” (pages 111-113) Summary of Responsibilities -Complete Case 10 on page 258 and upload to the Module 4 dropbox in Blackboard by module due date. -All three tasks involved above must be merged into one PDF. -Complete module 4 quiz in Blackboard by module due date. Detailed Description of Responsibilities This module is all about the specifics of language construction, specifically on syntactical and grammatical levels. In this module I want you to shift your paradigm about technical language rules. We are all familiar with the rote grammar exercises of writing classrooms past, having drilled into our brains concepts of comma splices and subject/verb agreement with no immediately discernible purpose to which to attach these exercises. For many, understanding the specifics of language use was problematic because they were always cast as “rules,” when for every rule there would always be an exception (e.g., grief, its/ it’s). It is less problematic if you begin to see language not as a set of rules by which to abide but rather as ever-shifting sets of conventions that change with the audience and purpose of the situation. Choosing a medium-length sentence is great for technical reports, but for author James Joyce, known for his page-long sentences, such a convention mattered little in achieving his creative ends. I want you to realize that language convention are not inherently good or bad but are entirely dependent on the situation at hand. For example, euphemisms are effective for many reasons (cf. page 245-6). As words that are “softer” substitutes for other words, the proper implementation of euphemisms are great when trying to inform someone of bad news. Rather than say that a shotgun blast tore through the cheekbones and frontal lobe of a victim, a medical examiner might say that the person was “unrecognizable.” I apologize for the graphics, but that really gets at the heart of what a euphemism is: saying something lighter in an uncomfortable situation. Just like when someone politely describes an annoying friend as “outgoing” or an outrageous idea as “interesting.”

This happens quite often in professional spheres and, as Markel points out on page 246, the invocation of euphemisms is an ethical issue. For him, euphemisms are unethical because they lack clarity and honesty, two crucial features of effective technical communication. This idea really came to light a couple of months ago when giant corporation Citigroup released a public statement about layoffs. The very title of the release, “Citigroup Announces Repositioning Actions to Further Reduce Expenses and Improve Efficiency,” uses so much jargon that the reader— the public—is immediately alienated. As this journalist points out, it would have been much more clear if the release just said that they were firing people to save money. So, while Citigroup thought it was being sly by not putting “Citigroup” and “layoffs” in the same sentence, what they really ended up doing was alienating their audience, which was, again, the public. Why were they alienated? Well, not only because Citigroup insulted the public’s intelligence but also more specifically because the wording did not fit the audience. This type of corporate jargon is expected in intra-organizational communication, but corporations above all else have a responsibility to their customers and the public to clearly state their actions. It’s like BP making a headline on April 21st, 2010, “Ancient Deep-water Beauty of Nature Erupts, Leaving BP No Choice but to Consistently and Productively Douse the Gulf with Cleansing Elixir of Happiness.” Eventually BP has to say that hydrocarbonic oil erupted due to safety errors, killing 11 people, and permanently disrupting the Gulf’s ecosystems. Say what you want, the public will know. The reason why I am prefacing this module with talks of shotguns and euphemisms is because I want you to realize that writing is not “good” because it is “correct,”: rather, writing is “effective” because it follows “conventions” that are based upon the idea that the way you write is determined by who your audience is. This is why I am comfortable having you read about prepositional phrases and dangling modifiers: because becoming a savvy writer who knows how to use language conventions will mean clear communication, and clear communication is an important part of everything you do. Task One: Memo to Ms. Cammaroto Having read and thoroughly understood the conventions outlined in chapter 10, you can begin to think about question 1 in Case 10 (p. 258). After you read the background blurb and the question, it should be pretty clear what’s expected of you. In terms of requirements, the memo needs to be one-page, single-spaced.

Task Two: Revised Document Revise the document provided in accordance with the ideas presented throughout chapter 10. I am looking for specificity and attentiveness here. Making a couple changes here and there is not going to cut it. You need to really close-read the document, as there are many, many parts of the document that should be changed considering the change in audience. Be sure to read the prompt carefully to know exactly who your audience is; this will give you a better head start in decided which elements to revise. Task Three: Detailed List of Revisions The last thing asked of you for this module is that you provide a list of all he revisions you made, from the small to the larger. This can be in bullet point form. I would suggest that you work on this document as you continue to work thought the entire module.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful