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General writing advice: Addressing the audience


ershad193 14 / 332 5  
Jul 5, 2010   #1
Hi everybody!

**For the sake of simplicity, let's term my next few lines as advice(s). Actually, I'm not sure what they are. **

The advice I am going to give doesn't just apply to English, but to other languages as well. I can say this because I am fluent in three Indian languages viz. Hindi, Bengali and Assamese. Additionally, I know some Sanskrit and passable Urdu (I can read Arabic but that doesn't count as I don't understand it). All these languages have taught me the importance of addressing the audience appropriately. So, the advice is about how to communicate with people who have varying levels of knowledge, intelligence and grasp of language.

We know from our everyday knowledge that, we have to vary our vocabulary, sentence structure and tone to suit the person who is listening. We do not use the same linguistic range when addressing children, as we do with adults. On the other hand, we don't use a patronizing tone when talking to our parents, as we use with our younger siblings. This convention can be applied to writing as well.

Take the example of a technical school/college essay. When I write such an essay, I already know that the person who is going to read it, i.e. the professor, knows a lot more about the topic than me. So, in most cases, I can be creative with the language. I can use all the terms associated with the subject, fancy words, complex structures, metaphors...blah, blah, blah. But if such an essay is fed to my neighborhood guy who studies art, he will either stick it up my backside or gulp it and flush it down his toilet (I may be wrong, but I wouldn't risk it).

Hence, it is advisable to first assess the capacity of the audience before communicating with them, irrespective of written or spoken means. Some people think that if they don't express themselves at the peak of their abilities, their stature will be downgraded. This is a wrong notion. When we use simple words and sentences to address someone with inferior knowledge/intelligence/linguistic ability, we just demonstrate our versatility. We show that we can adapt to the demands of the reader (this is why I admire people who write Children's literature).

So, how do we do it? We do it the same way as we assess a listener, i.e. by noticing his/her background, intelligence and usage of the language. Therefore, I suggest we should always think about what category of people will be reading our essays/reviews/comments/junk piece like this one, before we actually write it.

**If anyone didn't understand something due to my poor sentence construction/bad grammar etc., please forgive me and if possible suggest corrections**

P.S. I hope that I have addressed the audience properly.
tiaw 1 / 2  
Jul 5, 2010   #2
nice post.
learned a lot
i am amazed about your language ability. you master sooo many.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13320 129  
Jul 7, 2010   #3
Some people think that if they don't express themselves at the peak of their abilities, their stature will be downgraded. This is a wrong notion. When we use simple words and sentences to address someone with inferior knowledge/intelligence/linguistic ability, we just demonstrate our versatility.

Great points here!! Anyone who wants to see masterful simplicity should read Hemingway.

Thanks, Ershad; I'll link people to this thread sometimes when they need this kind of advice, which is often.

:-)
Azeri 10 / 137  
Jul 8, 2010   #4
Thanks Ershad. Although I looked up for a couple of words in the dictionary, I think that you succeeded in conveying your ideas in a simple and understandible manner. :)
amaa2010 1 / 2  
Jul 13, 2010   #5
thanks I am using the same advice, reading Hemingway =)
willy0123 2 / 6  
Jul 13, 2010   #6
when I tried to write essays for preparing IELTS exam,
I felt frustrated due to lack of my vocabulary and small mistakes like articles 'a, an, the'
I didn't focused on the most important thinig that I had to know how to communicate with people through my essay, but just small parts(articles, difficult words and etc)

Thanks for your advice.
also I can say there is no royal road to learning
Lynn Truong 3 / 4  
Jul 13, 2010   #7
Thanks Arshad,

It's a vey useful advice to someone like me, with very hot-tempered manner in communicating. I always want to cut short every sentence when i talk to my friends, collegues...and sisters in the lazy way. For example, instead of saying: i went to the market this morning and bought a very nice T-shirt...i would say: market this morning, bought a T-shirt, it's cool...

As a result, when facing an "academic" topic I usually get stuck at the begining.


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