Jan 272012

I love the English language. It’s crazy, complicated, and bloated, and those are all things that contribute to its amazing expressiveness. If a word doesn’t exist, someone will make it up, or rip it off from another language. It’s a quirky, twisted amalgamation of words and syntax from a broad swath of other languages. From Latin to German to Japanese and Cherokee, English has swiped words from dozens of other languages.

All of that makes it a tricky language to master. It’s not hard to get your point across in English, but to do it with an appropriate level of grammatical correctness and meet the style and formality of whatever context you’re working in can be difficult.

English can be ugly and twisted or fluid and beautiful, depending on the skill level of the writer and the point they’re trying to get across. It can be used to create magnificent works such as Handel’s “Messiah” and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, popular novels such as Stephen King’s Carrie, or technical materials such as the MDN wiki I administrate. If you look at all of these works, they demonstrate the wide variety of styles of material you can create in English, and they each practically feel like they’re written in a different language, because of how differently the construction of sentences and the flow of the material works.

That English can be difficult to master has the side benefit of making being a technical writer a very attractive and lucrative line of work. If you know how to write code and can also write in English easily and with skill, you have a unique suite of capabilities that make you highly employable. And if you love words, and have fun writing code, technical writing is a blast — being able to do both is the most fun I’ve ever had in my working life, and I’m incredibly thankful that I get to do it.

 Posted by at 4:06 PM

  3 Responses to “A writer’s inspiration: The English language”

  1. Hey, well put! I didn’t really realize until now how much of a blessing it is to be able to write technical articles. Thanks for the insight!

  2. Great , Eric,I agree with all your words concerning the beauty and flavor we can get out of English.To me,English is:” a thing of beauty is a beauty for ever”.That’s why it is known as a ligua franca.

  3. Sorry,I misspelled my last name:It is Fonseca

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