Advice on writing to non-native English speakers. The jpoc guide to postal relationships with women from russia and other eastern european nations.

If a German, A Dutchman and a Dane are holding a business meeting in Frankfurt, it is likely that they will all speak English to each other. Despite the fact that it is not their first language, they will generally have no problems understanding what is being said. If you add an Englishman or and American to the meeting, it is likely that the others will have real trouble understanding what the native English speaker is saying.

I have seen this happen and I strive for clarity when speaking with people for whom English is a foreign language. Once, in Munich, a German colleague told me that he found it easier to speak to me than to other native English speakers because he could understand what I was saying.

The same rules that apply to speaking style are also relevnt to written English when your readers are not native English speakers. It does not matter if you are writing love letters to a fiancee or a business report for a multinational project. If you can express yourself in a clear manner, your words will carry more weight.

Style, spelling, grammar and idiomatic content are all important. Remember, what you write will be read by a person for whom English is a foreign language. Even if the words are being translated , who is doing the translation? Most of the time, that person's English is far from perfect. To take the points made above in order, first, I'll write about style.

Keep the sentences short and simple in structure. If you write a single sentence with fifty or more words and several sub clauses, it is very likely that it will be misunderstood. It's just too complex. It is also much harder to translate one long sentence than three short ones. Also, try to avoid complex linguistic structures and be cautions about the use of negative phrases which can be misunderstood. As an example, consider the following: "I think that it would not be unreasonable for you to come and visit me." That is much more likely to be misunderstood than: "I think that it would be good if you would come to visit me."

Spelling is simple. It must be correct. I know that there is a strong body of opion that says that you should not worry too much aboout spelling. After all, it is what you say that matters not whether you know how to spell every word that you use. When you are writing to people for whom English is a second language. correct spelling is vital. If you are lucky, a spelling mistake will just cause a sentence to be dismissed as beyond the ability of the translator. Worse than that is the prospect that it could be misunderstood.

Closely related to spelling are word substitution errors. Consider the following word pairs or triplets: affect & effect, insure, assure & ensure, inquire & enquire and lastly their, there & they're. A lot of folks write one of these words when they mean another. Be sure that you know what you are writing.

Grammar is the same as spelling. It is vital that it is correct. Get the tense of a verb wrong and what you write may make no sense at all. Of course, a native English speaker will probably guess what you really mean but others will not.

Finally, I want to talk about idioms. It is probably a good idea to avoid them altogether. An idiom which your reader does not understand will certainly confuse and may mislead. If you must use idioms, make sure that you use them correctly. The internet news groups are full of people writing "I could care less" which is the exact opposite of what they mean and I have also seen "by no means" instead of "by all means"!

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