Chinese Technical Communicators' Opinions on Cultural Differences between Chinese and Western User Manuals

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One of the most significant challenges that technical communicators face in today’s globalizing world is how to meet the requirements of target groups from different cultures. Translation and localization of user documentation are important activities in the field of technical communication. Previous studies have shown that there are differences between content, structure and style of user manuals from different cultures. Especially the differences between Chinese and Western manuals seem to be significant. It is not known, however, if and how technical communicators take cultural differences into account when designing manuals. To explore the opinions of Chinese technical communicators, twenty of them were interviewed. The results show that the majority of the interviewees assumed that Chinese and Western manuals differ from each other in many aspects (content, structure, style, visuals) and that Chinese and Western users have a different approach to manuals. Overall, the interviewees considered it important to target manuals to the culture of the users, but they experience several obstacles to do this, such as the obligation to use Western style sheets, the costs related to localizing and a lack of knowledge. Although the results may not be generalizable, because most interviewees worked in the software and telecommunication industry, they clearly show that there is a lack of knowledge about how to localize user manuals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2019 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (ProComm)
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781728125664
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2019


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