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    Related: native English speakers are the world’s worst communicators. Here’s an example from a story the other day:

    As any beleaguered Pythonista knows, the move from 2 to 3 has been stretching on interminably.

    I had to guess (and then look up to confirm) what “interminably” means. It would be so much clearer if the author had just used “forever” or “without end”.

    Immediate feedback from services like Grammarly and Readable are helpful.

    I tried Grammarly a few times, and found that literally every single suggestion it gave me was rubbish. I have not yet tried Readable.

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      As any beleaguered Pythonista knows, the move from 2 to 3 has been stretching on interminably.

      There’s nothing wrong with this sentence if the target audience is not the global audience. I don’t know the context of that sentence, however. If it’s someone’s blog, there’s nothing wrong with it. If it’s technical documentation, it seems like a poor sentence.

      The article you linked does hit on one aspect that is important for non-native English speakers: abbreviations. If you’re writing something somewhat formal, do everyone a favour and introduce your abbreviations through parentheticals before using them.

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        Not a native speaker of Englisch. By itself I was a bit puzzled by this sentence. I searched for its source on the web (a blog post) and read it in context: no problem at all.

        As a non-native speaker I am very used to “parsing” sentences with words I don’t know. It’s not a big thing tbh. Whats probably a bigger problem is if central terms are not properly introduced / understood. For example I was for years not aware that fixture is not an absurd word (I always thought it would come from something like an “invariant” that every test method would have, whatever) but a word for permanent stuff in rooms and buildings like furniture.

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        I found ‘beleagered’ more of a challenge. From context, I think it means something like ‘experienced’. I don’t know the word ‘interminably’, but I know the word ‘terminal’, so that and the context give me enough confidence that it means ‘endlessly’.

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          “Beleaguered” is a less harsh way of saying “tormented” or “harassed”. It’s a way to capture the notion that you have been worn down and are ready to give up.

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        This is something I have been working on a while with my blog. Now most of my posts that get to the top here are literally written in a single pass. Thanks all!

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          You’re doing great. I read your posts as they hit lobsters and enjoy them all!

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          I read the title which suggests that writing well is undervalued, but in reading the body of the article, there is nothing in it that suggests such a thing. On the contrary, it only continually underscores how writing well is highly valued (by all, it seems)! heh :) At any rate, a good reminder about a good skill to have!

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            I think what the author meant is that it’s undervalued as an explicit skill. I don’t often see “able to write well” in job requirements, and it’s not something that often comes up during interviews. In the last few years there’s been a bit more attention to “soft skills” like this, but often it’s in the context of “don’t be a toxic asshole”. This is something that was very much needed IMHO, but also quite limited.

            I don’t often see it on CVs or cover letters either, and come to think of it, I should perhaps consider putting it on mine.

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            Sadly so much writing advice focuses on the nearly irrelevant. Grammar, spelling, style.

            Item zero on your list should be…

            Who is your reader? What does she know already? What is she trying to do when she starts reading your document.

            Item one on your review checklist list is…

            How usable is my document? Am I really so foolish as expect anyone to read the whole damn thing?

            Skimming is a life pro skill, everybody who is getting anywhere in life does it. So make your doc is skimmable.

            Contents pages, overview, Big Fat Health Warnings if there is anything SURPRISING that will be damaging, and lots of standard use case examples.

            NB: Legal butt covering is not a useful health warning. Telling people not to do the common sense obvious is butt covering and obscures the tricksy things that will actually kill them.

            Nobody on the planet actually reads the legal butt covering warnings.

            Use twitter.


            For a single purpose.

            Force yourself to say deep and useful and meaningful things in 140 characters or less.

            If you can’t, shut up.

            It’s a superb discipline.