25 October 2011

Waffle and guff, take #2

More thoughts on waffle and guff as discussed by Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway on 23 October in Management guff lands in China.
Although none of the claims discussed here can be considered to have been formally demonstrated by exhaustive research, all are perfectly in line with my own observations over the past three decades.

Lucy points out that waffle and guff:
  • are widespread and probably increasingly so
  • seldom appear to have any negative impact on the performance or sales of large corporations (no matter how disappointing that observation may be to language-sensitive technical communicators and their readers)
  • are sometimes observed to have a significant negative impact on smaller companies that have yet to make a name for themselves.
I would add, as I pointed out below under 'Defence is different', that waffle, guff and other forms of poor writing and translation have little or no impact on sales in defence and other areas with high price tags per item.

All of which leaves language-sensitive technical communicators and translators with just one unique selling proposition when talking to large corporations, namely that front-line documents  in all working languages should be a source of corporate pride and the quality of the writing and any translations commensurate with the proclaimed quality of the company's own products and services.

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