MIDDLE TECHNICAL STYLE

A large group of intelligent and well-educated laymen occupies a position midway between the specialist and the man on the street. Included in the group are many technical experts in certain fields, who may be only "intelligent and well-educated laymen" in other departments of scientific knowledge. A substantial part of technical composition is directed to such persons. It is not useful to use technical language if the person on the other end of the correspondence is not well versed in that particular field. At the same time, "layman's terms" should never be used unless that person is a total outsider to the industry in question. Many books, articles, and public lectures bring the scientific knowledge of experts to mature readers and audiences who have a good general education but little, if any, training in the subject under discussion. Efficient communication then depends upon a "middle" range of technical style.

Overall, the structures of language in this style are more normal than in the two other basic technical styles. The extreme simplification and awkward repetition used in popular treatments of science are unnecessary. Reliance is placed less on avoidance of the proper idiom and nomenclature of the subject than upon definition and explanation. The reader may need to occasionally use a dictionary, but of course the writer does not display rare words by preference. Although technical devices like equations, drawings, and graphs may be indispensable, they are not allowed to push the text aside altogether. Nearly always, a symbolic point is also expressed in ordinary sentences.

Advantage for the course in technical English
The middle style is particularly advantageous for a course in technical English. It solves the problem that science students have with English classes -- that teachers ignore vital class subjects due to their love of aesthetic literature. On the other hand, it does not confront an instructor with the task of marking papers that sometimes consist chiefiy of symbols rather than of ordinary language. The average student in a professional curriculum receives ample training in technical communication, such as the preparation of routine laboratory reports. The purpose of the class in technical English is to reinforce that work by concentrating effort upon general principles of logic, sound composition, and correct language in the service of technical subject matters. Very often, sections are not composed exclusively of students enrolled in the same departments of engineering or theoretical science. Through the medium of a middle technical style, members of a mixed group can improve their proficiency in English by writing and speaking effectively on topics within their respective fields.

J. D. Thomas, Composition for Technical Students (1965)

A man's ability to create both written and spoken concrete words depends on his love of truth and his ability to portray the truth. The corruption of man is followed by the corruption of language.

When secondary desires break up simplicity of character and sovereignty of ideas, and falsehoods replace truths, the power over nature as an interpreter of the will is lost. New imagery ceases to be created, and old words are perverted to stand for things which are not; a paper currency is employed, when there is no bullion in the vaults.

In due time the fraud is manifest, and words lose their power to connect with human emotion.

All over the world, writers spew words of the writers that came before them, and pass them off as truth. Some even believe they are the bearer of truths, and make other believe the same. But wise men pierce this rotten diction and fasten words again to visible things, connecting their words to the truth.

The moment our discourse rises above the ground line of familiar facts and is inflamed with passion or exalted by thought, it clothes itself in images. A man conversing in earnest will find that a material image more or less luminous arises in his mind, simultaneous with every thought, which furnishes the vestment of thought. Hence....
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