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The parson mug prize draw #5. Congratulations to the winners

In which country was the parson mug photographed, we asked at the beginning of December. more ...

RDF is not XML – RDF serialization and iiRDS metadata

The world of technical writing loves XML. Its document type definitions are the foundation of structured authoring. XML and the underlying schemas structure the content of our information products. The benefits are twofold. Content is consistently structured and easy to read. Authors have an easier time writing the content. The structure provides guidelines for authoring. more ...

The parson mug prize draw #5

It is winter in Hamburg and Christmas is right around the corner. Meanwhile, the parson mug gets to enjoy the sun! more ...

How to become a technical writer – Confessions of a former translator

A former translator, I worked the first seven years of my professional life in the translation industry, in various positions. While I learned a lot from this experience, it also left me, as a writer, frustrated. Translators are chained to their source text and writing the words of others in another language, usually focusing on what their clients want. more ...

tekom impressions part 2: API documentation and the VUKA world

Daniela Herbold and Ulrike Parson write about better API documentation and solutions for innovative human resources management. more ...

What do you do? An attempt to explain a profession

Sunday afternoon. Coffee and a black-forest cherry cake. Great aunt Else pats the back of my hand. “And you, child? What do you do?”

I, the child, 51, have got three options now:

(1) Tell the truth.
(2) Stuff a huge piece of cherry cake into my mouth and hope that auntie Else forgets her question.
(3) Say I am a translator.

Schwarzwaelder KirschtorteSchwarzwälder Kirschtorte. © VRD | Fotolia.com

I look at the cake and decide to go for option 2. But aunt Else’s 87-year-old memory is as crisp as the chocolate flakes on top of the cake. She waits until I have swallowed. Then she asks, impatiently: “And?”

Aunt Else must have put a lot of cherry liquor in the cake. Boldly, I announce: “I am a technical writer.”

„Oh. Do you work for a newspaper?“

I shake my head. „I write operating instructions”, I reply and let the small silver fork slide back into the cake.

„Operating instructions?“ Aunt Else’s eyebrows begin to tremble. „You mean like for my new washing machine? That one was in Spanish. I didn’t know you knew Spanish.”

“The instructions were translated into German, aunt Else. They were at the end of the book.”

„What a waste of paper!“ Aunt Else looks at me skeptical. “So you are a translator then.”

„Exactly“, I mumble with my mouth full.

„Why didn’t you say so in the first place, child?“

The story isn't true, of course. But sometimes, we find it difficult to explain what we do. Read our knowledge article What does a technical writer do? The article is currently only available in German. We are working on the translation.

 

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