When I was a young boy, I found I was fascinated by work. Hard work. I found I had little satisfaction working in an office. Strange thing to hear from a writer/editor/publisher, eh? Yet, it is a true statement. For most of my life I enjoyed hard work.
I worked as a helper in just about every trade there was from the age of thirteen. Worked at a much younger age with the rest of my family as we helped my mom in her construction clean up business. I learned that to get answers to my questions, I had to learn how to speak electrician and plumber and landscaper and brick mason.
When I joined the Navy, I thought I was going to be a full time firefighter. I had to learn to not only speak and read firefighter, but Navy as well.
In my time in the Navy, I wrote. Reports, assessments, manual updates, etc. I learned a great deal about the art of writing. The art of writing for the military. I took what I had learned about languages from an early age and applied that to my writing.
What do I mean? Am I writing in French, Spanish or Russian? No, I was writing for the military and anyone who has written for a military group concerning military subjects knows it is a language all its own. Knows that writing for the Navy is different than the Marines which is different from the Army and the Air Force. You must gear the writing to the audience and each military is a particular audience. Not everyone can write for the military. Most can’t if I am honest.
The same is true for medical textbooks, grants, legal briefs, repair manuals, and all the other forms of writing most don’t think of when you say you write for a living. If you write for others, you must learn to speak their language.
Plumbers don’t think like marketers. Nor do they speak the same. What is important to me as a writer is they also don’t read the same way. If I wrote a treatise on repairing a sink, I would write several. The subject is the same so why write it differently? To get the message across to as many as possible.
People’s comprehension is based upon their life experiences as much as their education. I have found men who are incredible chemists who have never left the trailer park. Their use of the language is far different than those who work for DOW Chemicals or as an inventor of cosmetics.
The subject is the same – chemistry. However, if I want to get the message across, I must gear the language I use as well as the references I also use, to my target audience. Is this profiling? Hell yes. A good writer is an expert profiler. He is also an expert in languages, cultures, and other factors you must take in consideration when trying to communicate with others.
Which is why this is so important to writers. Writing is communication – period. If you aren’t getting your message across then it isn’t your reader’s fault. It’s yours.
Why is this so important? If you are writing a novel for a young audience then your characters and plot must appeal to a young audience. If you are writing a thriller, then it must speak to the part of your audience that loves thrillers. All this requires proper communication which requires that you as a writer know your audience. If you know your audience then you can use their language.
Let’s go back to my blue collar roots. Say I tell a helper I want a whip. I am a former welder, and a whip is a stinger which is an electrode holder which is a…? In the northeast they call for an electrode holder. In the south it is a whip. In the other parts of the world, it is a stinger. Well, there are several more names for a tool which holds an electrode used to weld two pieces of metal together. See, even electrode is a different word. Most use the word rod.
Why is this so important? Because who you write for and where they are is as important as the subject matter you are writing about. Find out who your target audience is. Learn their language, “their lingo.” Remember, a young man whose only concern is gaming talks and reads differently than an old woman whose only interest is sex.
If you write, your specialty is communication. Therefore, learn the languages of your audience to effectively do so. What language are you writing today?
I’m Ross, the Editor-in-Chief at The Pyrateheart Press and I’m out.
2 thoughts on “Languages”
Totally agreed about speaking your audience’s language. As writers, we often think we have a style and that our readers should conform to us, while it’s the other way round. Thanks for this post!
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You’re right. Most writers know to write to their audience. But, they forget about the importance of writing in their language. Thanks for reading!