How I use applied linguistics to be a better technical writer




Why is this talk relevant for documentarians? We work in highly international contexts. Most often with English as a shared corporate language. And we’re expected to function at a high level of both technical and social proficiency in English.

In my daily work and socializing with colleagues across different disciplines and nationalities, I’m frequently reminded of my studies in Business English as a Lingua Franca, which I use in a practical sense both when collaborating with colleagues and when writing actual documentation.

This is where applied linguistics comes in, based on this definition, shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia: "[applied linguistics] identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to language-related real-life problems"

In short, what I’ve found during my academic studies is:

• People don’t speak English. They speak their own language with English words.

• We cluster together in perceived like-minded groups (example: Italians, French and Spanish; Scandinavians)-

• Shared contexts are more important than language proficiency-

In this talk, I’ll give examples of how these findings aren’t just theoretical – they’re all around me during my day-to-day in tech. I’ll elaborate on this and give some examples of how I use that to improve my collaboration with SMEs and my actual writing.

  • Conference: Write the Docs Prague
  • Year: 2021

About the speaker

Kat Stoica Ostenfeld