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Chapter-2 Adaptation and the Selection of Words

The importance of adaption


Writing needs to be clear.

Adapt your writing according to your readers.


You need to simplify your writing according to the

level of your reader. (Their vocabularies might be limited) Adaptation illustrated (see the book) Write in the readers language but do not sacrifice the effectiveness for shortness of the message. Do not omit important points.

Selecting words
Keep your writing simple-1. Many people tend to

write at a difficult level, 2. the writer knows the subject better than the reader, 3. research supports simplicity. People tend to change character while writing messages. Use familiar words for communication. Using Unfamiliar words Familiar words difficult words is not bad whenEnd they are needed Terminate and understood by the reader. Utilize Use
Demonstrate Initiate Show Begin

Selecting words
Unfamiliar vs Familiar words in a message: One monkey succumbed unexpectedly apparently as a result of an untoward response to a change in feeding regimen. One monkey died because it ate too much. Use popular clichs with caution. Example: Is that your final answer? (Who wants to be a millionaire) Short words generally communicate better. There are some exceptions.

Selecting words
Use technical words and acronyms carefully:

-using technical words with people outside your field can create miscommunication -SARS (South African Revenue Service)
Use specific words:
- Concrete words can be the things/creatures/people

that exist in the real world. Example: computer, Mickey Mouse, Tiger Woods. - Abstract nouns can cover broad meanings. Negotiation, Communication, Discrimination. - Exactness (25% profit), Vague (a decent amount of profit)

Use active verbs


Do not overuse the verb to be. Sometimes

passive verbs weaken the effect of your sentence. Using active verbs will lessen the number of words: -There are over 300 customers served by our help desk each day. -Our help desk personnel serve over 300 customers each day. Prefer the active voice to the passive voice but there are some places where using passive voice is correct.

The active and passive voice


Passive voice is better when the action is not

important, the performer is unknown, to avoid accusing the reader, to avoid the name of the performer. Example: The color desired was not specified in the order, Anonymous complaints have been received, Two complaints have been made about you.

Avoid overusing camouflaged words


An arrangement was made to meet for breakfast. Camouflaged words are abstract nouns. Camouflaged words require passive voice. Maintain sentence order for clear meaning (Subject, verb, object). We arranged to meet for breakfast.

Select words for precise meanings


Similar words have different meanings. (fired,

dismissed, discharged, terminated) Fewer: smaller number of items, less: reduced value, degree or quantity. Affect: to influence, effect: to bring to pass Farther: geographic distance, further: more When you use idioms, write them correctly.

Use gender neutral words


Avoid using masculine pronouns for both sexes.

You can avoid using masculine pronouns by

rewording the sentence or using plural forms or substituting neutral expressions. When a customer need service, it is his right to ask for it. Or, A customer who needs service has the right to ask for it; When customers need service, they have the right to ask for it; When one needs service, one has the right to ask for it.

Avoid stereotyping
Words depicting minorities in a stereotypes way

are unfair and untrue. Use words carefully to eliminate reference to minorities. E.g. Chinese manager. When writing, avoid using words that stereotype by age. ( Teenagers can be replaced by young persons)