Writing non-native English in technical communication

Are you a technical communicator who writes and designs technical information in English, despite the fact that English is not your mother tongue? If you are, you are not alone. In a global working environment with tight budgets and deadlines, this is the reality for me and a growing number of technical authors. Here is a strategy that helps you deliver English texts of high quality.


Writing non-native English in technical communication

Image: © Veeranat Suwangulrut/ 123rf.com

Why write non-native English?

In an ideal world, professional texts should be written exclusively by native speakers who are linguistic, technical, and communication specialists. However, this is not the reality for many technical writers who work for international or national companies in Europe operating on a global basis.

I have been working as a technical writer in Austria for over 15 years, and during this time, I rarely wrote documentation in my native language, German. Much more often I produced technical information for a worldwide audience in English.

And, to paint a picture that is even further away from the perfect professional world of technical communicators: Rarely were the texts I produced proofread by native speakers; sometimes the texts were peer-edited by other non-native speakers. The plain truth is that most of the time the descriptions, instructions, and other ...