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English is spoken by more people than any other language in the world has ever been. English is the language of world trade, world politics, and technology—of world communication. Consequently, technical communicators must think—and write--in terms of world or international English. Technical communicators must pay particular attention to their written use of the English language for they are likely inadvertently to use cliches, jargon, euphemisms, and other forms of idiomatic English that are almost certain to obfuscate or, worse, to misinform many international readers. This paper includes statistics on the worldwide use of and reliance on English and then focuses primarily on idiomatic English, examining the problems idiomatic expressions pose, their lexical structure, and what technical writers need to do to with them. The paper also includes a select list of commonly used idioms.
idiomatic expressions, international English, lexical structure, technical communication
Associate professor of English, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM