Exploring languages and cultures
Exploring languages and cultures

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Exploring languages and cultures

3.3.2 Adapting to your audience

When specialists talk about their field they may tend to use technical language that can only be understood by other specialists. Being aware of your audience’s background and adapting your language accordingly is an important communication skill.

Activity 22

Described image
Figure 6 CyScan: a Guidance product

Now listen to another Guidance employee, Łukasz Gawryluk, describing the function of one of the company’s products, CyScan, and answer the questions below.

Download this video clip.Video player: CyScan (Part 1)
Skip transcript: CyScan (Part 1)

Transcript: CyScan (Part 1)

Łukasz Gawryluk (production team leader):
CyScan is a laser-based sensor which measures, er, range and bearing to the reflective targets placed on oil rigs, and based on that, can produce data string for DP systems on the vessel.
End transcript: CyScan (Part 1)
CyScan (Part 1)
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

1 Who do you think this explanation might be aimed at?

a. 

Lay people with an interest in the company’s activities.


b. 

Potential buyers of the product in question.


c. 

Engineers who design similar products.


The correct answer is b.

Discussion

The description is probably too technical for people who are not familiar at all with navigation systems. A potential buyer is likely to have a need for such a product and therefore be familiar with the ways in which oil rigs, vessels and ‘DP systems’ relate to each other. An explanation aimed at an engineer would probably contain even more detailed technical specifications.

2 Based on Łukasz’s description of the product, what questions would you ask in order to fully understand what it is used for?

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Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Answer

Here are some questions you could ask about CyScan, though you may have thought of different ones.

  • What is its main purpose?
  • Where does it measure the range and bearing from?
  • What are DP systems?

Note:

A DP (dynamic positioning) system is a computer-controlled means of maintaining a vessel’s position. You might also want to clarify particular terminology in order to check your understanding, e.g. does ‘bearing’ mean direction in this case? Does ‘data string’ mean information?

Activity 23

Listen again to Łukasz and answer the question below.

Download this video clip.Video player: CyScan (Part 2)
Skip transcript: CyScan (Part 2)

Transcript: CyScan (Part 2)

Łukasz Gawryluk (production team leader):
My name is Łukasz. I’m from Poland. I’m production, er, team leader. Product I’m responsible for is, er, called CyScan. This is laser-based sensor which is fitted, installed on vessels that supply oil rigs, and basically, what this sensor does is measures, er, distance between the vessel and oil rigs, and my task is to, er, plan production, make sure we have enough parts, enough resources, and then maintain production line to achieve monthly target.
End transcript: CyScan (Part 2)
CyScan (Part 2)
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Who do you think this explanation might be aimed at?

a. 

Lay people with an interest in the company’s activities.


b. 

Potential buyers of the product in question.


c. 

Engineers who design similar products.


The correct answer is a.

Discussion

The function of the product is now clearer: it ensures that vessels do not collide with the oil rig. The first explanation shows that terminology is only one challenge for the non-specialist. Technical descriptions often presuppose knowledge which a member of the public does not possess.

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