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Language as an important tool for communication
Written by Admin   
Friday, 20 May 2011 05:31

Language is an important aspect in our day to day life because it enables us to communicate.In writing and editing standards there are certain aspects that should be put into consideration in order to effectively and clearly communicate the intended message.

It is acceptable, for instance, to use abbreviations such as etc. and i.e. in a text. Others abbreviations include min, for minimum or minutes and max. for maximum.

When an abbreviation is used, the full form must be given when the abbreviation appears for the first time, unless it is listed in the definitions and abbreviations clause.

In a long, involved document with many abbreviations, the full form may be given more often, as necessary.

Alphabetical listing: When listing items alphabetically, take into account the letters of a word or words in the sequence in which they appear.

Disregard hyphens, spaces between words and punctuations marks.

Grammar and phraseology: In text, parenthesis is used, two (or more) sets if necessary: (xxxxx xx (xxx)). Make sure that each set is closed. { } and [ ] are used in equations or definitions.

If necessary for the sake of clarity, repeat prepositions such as to, for, from, etc., if one of them governs more than one phrase.-powder collected from the workshop floor or from the floor in the work area…”

Do not start a sentence with a number. Instead of “20 samples are required,” write: ‘Twenty specimens’…

Try to avoid the use of the present participle in sentences, rather use a relative pronoun:

Do not change weight to determine the mass of or vice versa without querying. The result, however, must always be mass and never weight.

The instruction when a test is being described should read: ‘Calculate in milligrams, the loss of mass’…..and not, ‘Calculate the loss of mass in milligrams….’

Where the symbols of equations are being explained, the sequence is the other way round:….where F is the friction, in newtons.

However, when a sentence is very long and the metric unit could become “lost”, the unit may be moved to the front:….where F is the average value, in newtons, of the friction under…

We do not use “unless inconsistent with the text….” Rather use “unless specified otherwise…”

We use ‘exceeds’ rather than ‘greater than’, BUT the use of greater than in mathematical expressions, and ‘larger than’ for physical size is quite acceptable. Editors should not change without querying.

Negative expressions: When a quality is specified that must of necessity be present. But within limits, the use of the form ‘shall be not’ is preferred.

When limits for an undesirable property are specified, the negative is placed between “shall” and the completing part: The melting point shall be not higher than 60?c.

When the negative is used with a comparative expression (more than, less than), shall be not is generally preferred: ‘shall be not more than 5, not ‘less than 3’.

When referring to more than two items use, ‘one another’ and not ‘each other’.

In relation to quality, quality verification is used and not quality evaluation.

PH is a theoretical concept and cannot act as a numerical requirement. The only quantity that can logically be referred to in a limiting way, i.e. in a requirement, is the PH value.

Use of particular words: ± Indicates tolerance and is used only in conjunction with numerical values. It is not used in the text as a synonym for “approximately” or “more or less”.

‘As,’ can be misconstrued as having a time connotation. Rather use ‘since’ to indicate cause and effect. Use before and not prior to.

Use versus utilize: In general sense of “put into service”, use is correct.

Utilize should be reserved for the narrower sense of “to make productive use of, to exploit profitably”.

Specimen/test sample: A sample is taken from the lot that is submitted for tests. For each individual test a specimen or test is taken from the sample.

Generally speaking, specimen is used for a single item to be tested such as the length of a pipe or a pencil. Test sample is used in case of a substance, of which a certain quantity is to be tested, for example, 10 ml of water.

Terminology should be consistent within a document.

Program/programme: Program is used for computer programs, programme is used in all other instances

Comply/conform: Comply with is used when reference is made to the requirements of a standard. Conform to, is used when reference is made to dimensions, limits of variation and similar concepts.

BUT in standards on QUALITY, ‘conform to’ is used throughout, i.e. both for requirements and dimensions.

However, when referring to an Act, comply with is used, for example, “…shall comply with the provisions of Act xxxx of 19xx”

And/or: In Roman Dutch law, and/or is construed as meaning ‘and’, and thus should be avoided in standards. Rephrase to clarify the meaning. Use A or B or both OR use A or B (or both).

If a material can catch fire or is readily combustible, it is flammable. Avoid inflammable as this is sometimes taken to mean “not flammable”, and can lead to (dangerous!) misunderstanding.

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